Doubling Pace of Boosters in US Could Save 41,000 Lives: Report

Ken Terry

January 11, 2022

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

By accelerating the rate of booster vaccinations, the United States could significantly "flatten the curve" of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, according to a new blog post written by researchers at the Commonwealth Fund.

Currently, they note, about 770,000 booster shots are being administered daily. If that rate is maintained, the authors forecast, during the next 4 months COVID will cause 210,000 additional deaths, nearly 1.7 million more hospitalizations, and almost 110 million additional infections.

Doubling the pace to 1.5 million boosters per day, they figure, could prevent 41,000 deaths, more than 400,000 hospitalizations, and over 14 million infections by the end of April. (The computer simulation used by the researchers spans the period from January 1 to April 30.)

Tripling the daily rate of booster shots to 2.3 million, they say, could prevent over 63,000 deaths, nearly 600,000 hospitalizations, and more than 21 million infections. That would represent a 30% reduction in the expected number of COVID-19 deaths and a 35% drop in the expected number of hospitalizations during the next 4 months.

According to the COVID Data Tracker of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 207.7 million Americans, or 62.5% of the population, are "fully vaccinated." Of those people, 75.4 million, or 36.3%, have gotten booster shots.

Breaking this down by age group, 60.4% of people who are 65 or older have received a booster, as have 51.2% of those aged 50 or older, and 39.4% of those aged 18 or older.

Upping Rate, Capacity

Accelerating the rate of booster vaccination is achievable, the Commonwealth Fund report notes. In early 2021, more than 2 million doses of COVID vaccine were administered daily for almost 3 months.

Since then, the government has increased vaccination capacity, including the addition of 10,000 vaccination sites for a total of 90,000 sites. Moreover, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has deployed mobile vaccination clinics, and community health centers have been hosting family vaccination days.

The US COVID-19 vaccination campaign has already prevented nearly 1.1 million deaths, the authors point out. "But new variants combined with waning immunity require sustained efforts," they observe. "A booster vaccination is effective at reversing an individual's waning immunity in a matter of days. As Omicron spreads, our findings highlight the urgent need to administer boosters as quickly as possible to everyone who is eligible."

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.