COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy could increase mortality rate by up to 8 times

March 25, 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, according to a news release.

In fact, 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 NPIs 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.

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