Miracle Shot: New Booster Could Save 90,000 Lives This Winter

Miracle Shot: New Booster Could Save 90,000 Lives This Winter

A new study found that an “aggressive” effort to distribute the Omicron-specific Covid booster could save 90,000 lives.

A new paper from the Commonwealth Fund and Yale School of Public Health has projected that roughly 90,000 lives would be saved if 80 percent of Americans eligible for the Omicron-specific bivalent Covid boosters get inoculated by the end of the year, Axios reported.

The United States, however, is on track for a far lower vaccination rate—only about half of Americans have gotten their first boosters and only about two-thirds have completed the primary two-dose regimen needed to be eligible for the newly rolled-out booster.

“If vaccination continued at its current pace through the end of March 2023, a potential winter surge in COVID-19 infections could result in a peak of around 16,000 hospitalizations and 1,200 deaths per day by March 2023,” the researchers wrote.

The paper also noted that getting 80 percent of eligible Americans boosted could potentially save more than $56 billion in direct medical costs, including $13.5 billion in Medicare spending and $4.5 billion in Medicaid spending.

While Covid cases and deaths have been on a steady decline in recent months, health experts have long contended that new variants could quickly reverse that trend.

“As population immunity wanes and new variants capable of evading protection from earlier vaccines and natural infection continue to emerge, surges in hospitalizations and deaths during the upcoming fall and winter are increasingly likely,” the Commonwealth Fund said in a statement.

“The recent FDA approval of bivalent boosters offers an opportunity to curb transmission; a vaccination campaign that moves aggressively could avert a surge of hospitalizations and deaths, and save money in the process,” it continued.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Americans should not be surprised if a new Covid variant emerges this winter.

“We should anticipate that we very well may get another variant that would emerge that would elude the immune response that we've gotten from infection and/or from vaccination,” the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during a seminar hosted by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.

Although the country is moving “in the right direction … we are entering into the winter months, where no matter what the respiratory disease is, there's always a risk of an uptick,” he added.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters