Oct 5, 2022 - Health

COVID boosters could save 90,000 lives, $56.5 billion

A nurse practitioner prepares a COVID booster.

Nurse practitioner Dorothy Nanong-Rojas prepares a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster shot in Freeport, N.Y., on Nov. 30, 2021. Photo: Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

About 90,000 lives would be saved and more than 936,000 hospitalizations could be prevented if 80% of Americans eligible for the latest COVID-19 boosters get vaccinated by year's end, according to a new paper from The Commonwealth Fund and Yale School of Public Health.

The big picture: Even matching 2020–2021 flu vaccine levels of closer to 50%–55% could save about 75,000 lives and prevent about 745,000 hospitalizations.

Why it matters: The U.S. is on track for a far lower rate. Only 36% of adults older than 50 have gotten second boosters.

  • "If vaccination continued at its current pace through the end of March 2023, a potential winter surge in COVID-19 infections could result in a peak of around 16,000 hospitalizations and 1,200 deaths per day by March 2023," the researchers said.

Between the lines: The low booster rate could weigh heavily on government health programs.

  • Getting 80% of eligible Americans boosted could save $56.3 billion in direct medical costs, including $13.5 billion in Medicare spending and $4.5 billion in Medicaid spending.

Yes, but: Comments Tuesday by White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci threw cold water on any COVID predictions, as he warned of the possibility of new vaccine-evading variants this winter.

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