Strategic vaccine delivery is essential to reduce COVID-19 transmission, mortality, and long-term health impacts. A study published in Computational Biology PLOS by Sam Moore, Matt Keeling and colleagues at the University of Warwick, UK, suggest that prioritizing vaccine delivery to older groups and medically vulnerable people has the greatest impact on reducing wastage of life.
While older people are more likely to experience serious health problems from COVID-19 infections, younger age groups significantly contribute to the transmission and spread of the disease. In order to test the effectiveness of different vaccination strategies in minimizing deaths and hospitalizations, the researchers built an age-structured model that simulated the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in different parts of the UK. The authors then used the model to test several different scenarios, including variations in vaccine efficacy using observational data on co-morbidities and social distancing measures in the UK.
Models have shown that vaccine strategies prioritizing older age groups most effectively mitigate death and loss of years of quality of life, despite the important role of younger groups in the spread of the disease. Since the study’s completion in 2020, data has become available for the key hypothesis on vaccine use and specific characteristics of the vaccine, but the overall findings of the study remain relevant. In addition, research has already helped guide UK policymakers in developing effective COVID-19 vaccination programs, including the formation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization priority groups that have been used to administration of vaccines.
According to the authors, “Although the ultimate success of any vaccination program will depend heavily on the characteristics of the vaccine itself and the level of uptake of the population, as vaccines are developed to mitigate the disease, it is of a great importance that they be delivered. optimally – reducing mortality and health care demands. In all scenarios, we believe that vaccinating the oldest and most vulnerable people has the greatest impact first. “
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