Vaccination programmes are worth the money
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The costs of vaccination programmes are vastly outweighed by the economic benefits of reducing illness, disability and premature death, a modelling study has found.
“We hope these numbers can allow vaccines to be seen as investments rather than expenses,” says Bryan Patenaude at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, who led the study.
Patenaude and his team generated estimates for the economic cost of illnesses, disability and premature death that would otherwise occur without vaccination programmes in 94 low and middle-income countries, and compared these with the overall cost of implementing the programmes. They focused on vaccination programmes targeting 10 infectious diseases, including measles, yellow fever and hepatitis B.
Using a model that considered treatment costs as well as lost wages and productivity due to illness, the researchers found that the money saved through the vaccination programmes will be approximately $682 billion for the period from 2011 to 2020. This is about 26 times the total cost of the programmes during this time.
The researchers estimate that a further $829 billion will be saved from the vaccination programmes from 2021 to 2030, which is about 20 times their total predicted cost over this period.
“We wanted to convert the benefits (into money) so you can compare them with other types of investments a country or organisation might be making – like in education or transport or other things,” says Patenaude.
The researchers validated their findings using another model, which estimates the value of a saved life using data on people’s willingness to spend money to reduce their risk of death. Using this model, they found that the estimated value of lives saved by the vaccination programmes will be about 51 times their cost from 2011 to 2020 and 52 times their cost from 2021 to 2030.
Measles vaccination provided the highest estimated return on investment. “(This is because) measles has a high case fatality rate (and) measles vaccines are extremely effective at reducing mortality in young children,” says Patenaude.
Journal reference: Health Affairs, DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00103
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