Potential impact of annual vaccination with reformulated COVID-19 vaccines: lessons from the U.S. COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub.
Jung S-M., Loo SL., Howerton E., Contamin L., Smith CP., Carcelén EC., Yan K., Bents SJ., Levander J., Espino J., Reich NG., Lemaitre JC., Sato K., McKee CD., Hill AL., Chinazzi M., Davis JT., Mu K., Vespignani A., Rosenstrom ET., Rodriguez-Cartes SA., Ivy JS., Mayorga ME., Swann JL., España G., Cavany S., Moore SM., Perkins A., Chen S., Paul R., Janies D., Thill J-C., Srivastava A., Al Aawar M., Bi K., Bandekar SR., Bouchnita A., Fox SJ., Meyers LA., Porebski P., Venkatramanan S., Adiga A., Hurt B., Klahn B., Outten J., Chen J., Mortveit H., Wilson A., Hoops S., Bhattacharya P., Machi D., Vullikanti A., Lewis B., Marathe M., Hochheiser H., Runge MC., Shea K., Truelove S., Viboud C., Lessler J.
IMPORTANCE: COVID-19 continues to cause significant hospitalizations and deaths in the United States. Its continued burden and the impact of annually reformulated vaccines remain unclear. OBJECTIVE: To project COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths from April 2023-April 2025 under two plausible assumptions about immune escape (20% per year and 50% per year) and three possible CDC recommendations for the use of annually reformulated vaccines (no vaccine recommendation, vaccination for those aged 65+, vaccination for all eligible groups). DESIGN: The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub solicited projections of COVID-19 hospitalization and deaths between April 15, 2023-April 15, 2025 under six scenarios representing the intersection of considered levels of immune escape and vaccination. State and national projections from eight modeling teams were ensembled to produce projections for each scenario. SETTING: The entire United States. PARTICIPANTS: None. EXPOSURE: Annually reformulated vaccines assumed to be 65% effective against strains circulating on June 15 of each year and to become available on September 1. Age and state specific coverage in recommended groups was assumed to match that seen for the first (fall 2021) COVID-19 booster. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Ensemble estimates of weekly and cumulative COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. Expected relative and absolute reductions in hospitalizations and deaths due to vaccination over the projection period. RESULTS: From April 15, 2023-April 15, 2025, COVID-19 is projected to cause annual epidemics peaking November-January. In the most pessimistic scenario (high immune escape, no vaccination recommendation), we project 2.1 million (90% PI: 1,438,000-4,270,000) hospitalizations and 209,000 (90% PI: 139,000-461,000) deaths, exceeding pre-pandemic mortality of influenza and pneumonia. In high immune escape scenarios, vaccination of those aged 65+ results in 230,000 (95% CI: 104,000-355,000) fewer hospitalizations and 33,000 (95% CI: 12,000-54,000) fewer deaths, while vaccination of all eligible individuals results in 431,000 (95% CI: 264,000-598,000) fewer hospitalizations and 49,000 (95% CI: 29,000-69,000) fewer deaths. CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE: COVID-19 is projected to be a significant public health threat over the coming two years. Broad vaccination has the potential to substantially reduce the burden of this disease. KEY POINTS: Question: What is the likely impact of COVID-19 from April 2023-April 2025 and to what extent can vaccination reduce hospitalizations and deaths?Findings: Under plausible assumptions about viral evolution and waning immunity, COVID-19 will likely cause annual epidemics peaking in November-January over the two-year projection period. Though significant, hospitalizations and deaths are unlikely to reach levels seen in previous winters. The projected health impacts of COVID-19 are reduced by 10-20% through moderate use of reformulated vaccines.Meaning: COVID-19 is projected to remain a significant public health threat. Annual vaccination can reduce morbidity, mortality, and strain on health systems.