Why hoarding vaccines costs many lives

When corona vaccines with a somewhat lower effectiveness are not vaccinated or are only slowly vaccinated, it costs many human lives. This emerges from an American simulation study, which should allow conclusions to be drawn about the situation in Germany. In this country, the currently available vaccines from the manufacturer Astra-Zeneca are not fully requested, which has sparked a discussion as to whether these vaccines should be made available to the general public.

Johannes Pennekamp

Responsible editor for economic reporting, responsible for “Die Lounge”.

Christian Geinitz

In the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, an American research team led by health economist Bruce Y. Lee compares two scenarios. In the first, a million Americans receive Biontech / Pfizer or Moderna vaccines each day, each with greater than 90 percent effectiveness. It then takes more than six months for 60 percent of the population to be immunized. In the second scenario, 1.5 million people receive the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which is almost 70 percent less effective. After just four months, 60 percent of the population had been vaccinated.

Despite the lower effectiveness of the vaccine, there are 1.38 million fewer corona cases, 51,000 fewer hospital patients and around 6,000 fewer deaths in the United States in the faster scenario. “Vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible saves most lives. And for every single person, a ‘less effective’ vaccine also offers substantial protection against serious Covid diseases, ”said Lee, summarizing his result in the“ New York Times ”.

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The sequence of vaccinations should be adhered to

In Germany at the weekend, the Prime Ministers Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), Markus Söder (CSU) and Michael Kretschmer (CDU) spoke out in favor of canceling the vaccination sequence for the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, which has an effectiveness of around 60 percent vaccinated faster. The Stiko Standing Vaccination Commission, on the other hand, sees no fundamental contradiction between the established sequence of vaccinations and immunization of society as soon as possible. “In principle you should vaccinate as soon as possible, that is correct. But I cannot see the connection between vaccination speed and prioritization list, ”said Stiko chairman Thomas Mertens of the FAZ. “That is a pseudo-argument, because the delays are not due to the prioritization, but to problems in implementation.” Mertens reminded that younger people in particular, who were on the prioritization lists, had professional and social contacts. Their protection also serves the environment and society.


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