COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy could lead to thousands of extra deaths

March 26, 2021

Hesitancy around COVID-19 vaccines could lead to thousands of extra deaths over a two-year period, epidemiologists from the Imperial College of London show, reported the college. High numbers of people refusing or delaying a vaccine could increase the mortality rate by up to eight times compared with ideal vaccination uptake, they said.

The COVID-19 response team at the college estimates that this hesitancy would lead to an extra 236 deaths per million population over a two-year period for a vaccine with high efficacy. This latest report evaluates the potential impact of vaccine hesitancy on the control of the pandemic and the relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. The analysis combines an epidemiological model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission with data on vaccine hesitancy from population surveys.

The research finds that mortality over a two-year period could be up to eight times higher in countries with high vaccine hesitancy compared to an ideal vaccination uptake if non-pharmaceutical interventions are relaxed. In addition, the authors say that high rates of vaccine hesitancy could prolong the need for non-pharmaceutical interventions.

The team emphasized that addressing vaccine hesitancy with behavioral interventions is an important priority in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imperial College of London has the report.

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