The benefits of rapid pandemic vaccination programs: evidence from international and interprovincial data

Paul Grootendorst, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy; Ashleigh Tuite, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

With pandemics occurring with increasing frequency, governments now appear to appreciate the need for a reliable and timely supply of pandemic vaccines.  To reduce pandemic-related mortality without vaccines, governments typically restrict the degree to which individuals can be in close contact.  In practice, this means, inter alia, school closures, restrictions on travel, and public or private social gatherings.  These measures, while necessary, impose costs of their own on educational outcomes, mental health and incomes.

To avoid these costs, ideally, governments would rapidly deploy pandemic vaccines, but securing sufficient vaccine supplies quickly is itself costly.  How much should governments allocate to ensuring rapid vaccine access? To answer this, we propose to estimate how increases in the fraction of the population vaccinated against COVID-19 reduced the stringency of pandemic related lockdowns.  These estimates, combined with estimates of the cost of lockdowns produced by other researchers, can quantify the value of rapid pandemic vaccination initiatives. 

We will estimate models of lockdown stringency using both country level data and province level data for Canada.  Estimating models using both data sets allows us to check whether results are consistent.

We will also construct and estimate statistical and hybrid statistical-epidemiological models of mortality rates and how these rates vary with the fraction of the population that is vaccinated against COVID-19.  This hybrid approach applies restrictions from epidemiological models onto regression and other types of models.  Moreover, we can model how vaccine uptake affects mortality among individuals by sex and in specific age groups.