Study Finds Nearly 70,000 US Hospitalizations, 110,000 Deaths Prevented With Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

The vaccine is also credited with saving more than $30 billion in health care costs and more than $40 billion in lost productivity.

Researchers have found that the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech has had significant health and economic impacts in the United States, according to data published in the Journal of Medical Economics.

In 2021, experts estimated that the vaccine prevented 8.7 million symptomatic cases of COVID-19, as well as 690,000 hospitalizations and more than 110,000 deaths. The vaccine is the most widely used COVID-19 vaccine in the United States and is also credited with saving more than $30 billion in health care costs and more than $40 billion in lost productivity.

“The analyses show that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine contributed substantial public health impact in the US in 2021 and had a deep effect on the trajectory of the pandemic,” said researcher Manuela Di Fusco, MSc, in a press release.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first COVID-19 vaccine available in the United States and was given to almost 6 in 10 Americans who were fully vaccinated in 2021, according to estimates from the CDC. In the new study, researchers used a model in addition to real-world and trial data to estimate how many symptomatic COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths would have occurred in 2021 if the vaccine had not been available. They also estimated how much these infections would have cost the health care system and the wider economy.

Data used in the model includes information on the number of individuals vaccinated, the efficacy of the vaccine in different age groups, and the probability of catching COVID-19, developing symptoms, and being hospitalized. The impacts of long COVID-19 were also taken into account, in addition to the number of working days likely to have been lost due to short-term illness and the economic cost of premature deaths.

Not only did the researchers find health benefits from the vaccine for millions of Americans, but they also found an estimated $30.4 billion in savings in health care costs and $43.7 billion of savings in productivity losses.

“[The vaccine] was estimated to prevent millions of COVID-19 symptomatic cases, thousands of hospitalizations and deaths, and generated billions in societal economic value in the US in 2021,” Di Fusco said in the press release.

She added that the results, “highlight the opportunity to continue widespread vaccination uptake to prevent COVID-19 related disease and generate societal benefits.”

The investigators noted several limitations of the study, which could have potentially led to their findings being an underestimate. These include not factoring in the potential of the vaccine to reduce transmission, the severity of cases, and the overall impact of long COVID-19.

They also acknowledged that the findings cannot be generalized to other COVID-19 vaccine brands, indications, and populations not specifically analyzed. The model also excluded the Omicron variant, which emerged at the end of the study period.

REFERENCE

Nearly 700,000 US hospitalizations and 110,000 deaths prevented from the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, national study finds. News release. EurekAlert; May 16, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/952615