How cost-effective are infectious disease vaccines?


Cost-effectiveness modelling is a powerful tool in understanding the value health interventions can bring to populations. For vaccines that target infectious diseases, as Pragya Khurana and Dr Richard Pitman of ICON explain, cost-effectiveness research can power evidence generation and decision-making that helps keep people safe.

As the world saw with COVID-19, infectious diseases and the pandemics they cause can put immense strain on healthcare systems, particularly with regard to labour, resources, and funding. Nearly three years after the initial outbreak began, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) still feels the pandemic’s burden. Even today, many patients have to wait 12 or more hours to be admitted to accident and emergency departments, and cancer patients are forced to delay treatment due to slim provider availability.

“By almost every measure of performance of the NHS, it’s apparent that the system is under extreme strain,” says Richard Pitman, PhD, lead health economist and epidemiologist at ICON. “In that environment, the cost of delivering services has increased.”

To help manage the burden of infectious diseases, vaccines are a powerful public health tool, as well as a medical intervention, explains Pragya Khurana, epidemiologist at ICON. By reducing not only the inoculated person’s disease risk, but also that of those around them, vaccines generate value for healthcare systems by reducing transmissions and improving patient outcomes.

But as pandemics evolve, healthcare costs shift, and more vaccines come to market, how do these environmental factors impact the cost-effectiveness of vaccines over time?  

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