Yale study: Success of vaccine depends on public confidence, other factors
Regardless of the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine, many factors — including public acceptance — will determine the success of a vaccination program, a study conducted by the Yale School of Public Health found.
“Infrastructure will contribute at least as much to the success of the vaccination program as will the vaccine itself,” A. David Paltiel, professor of public health at YSPH, said in a statement released by the university.
The research, published Thursday in Health Affairs, comes as the global effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is poised to produce candidates approved for large-scale distribution.
Pfizer and BioNTech have announced a nearly 95 percent efficacy rate for the COVID-19 vaccine they are co-developing, after analysis of an ongoing clinical trial of some 44,000 people globally.
Moderna has announced development of a drug with nearly the same rate. And AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson also have advanced clinical trials of vaccine candidates underway.
Pfizer, based in Groton, and its German partner BioNTech filed Friday for U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval — while the FDA works to define the evidence it will require to authorize vaccines in the weeks or months ahead.
As that happens, members of Gov. Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group said they are working to find money and formulate plans for how to distribute vaccines.
Among many details that need to be worked out are questions of who will get the first doses and how the drugs will get to them. There will be many challenges, including that Pfizer’s vaccine will have to be kept at temperatures colder than 90 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
Investigators at Yale created their own mathematical model to estimate the success of a vaccine. It depends, they concluded, on a number of factors, including:
The efficacy of the vaccine.
The speed of manufacturing and distribution.
The persuasiveness of public campaigns to promote vaccine acceptance.
The severity of the pandemic when the vaccine is introduced into the community.
“The population benefits of vaccination will decline rapidly in the face of manufacturing or deployment delays, significant vaccine hesitancy, or greater epidemic severity,” Paltiel said.
Jason L. Schwartz, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at YSPH, and author of the study, said its findings underscore the need for investment in distribution networks and efforts to build public trust in vaccines.
He also urged people to continue to engage in practices that have already been shown to limit spread of the virus
“Even with a highly effective vaccine, we will still need sustained adherence to masking, physical distancing and other mitigation practices for some time to bring the public health crisis under control,” Schwartz said in the Yale statement.