The impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the Case Fatality Rate: The importance of monitoring breakthrough infections

di Lego, V., Sanchez-Romero, M., & Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, A. (2022). The impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the Case Fatality Rate: The importance of monitoring breakthrough infections. International Journal of Infectious Diseases 119 178-183. 10.1016/j.ijid.2022.03.059.

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Abstract

Objectives: Test the behavior of the case fatality rate in a mixed population of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals by illustrating the role of both the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing deaths and the detection of infections among both the vaccinated (breakthrough infections) and unvaccinated individuals.

Methods: We simulate three hypothetical case fatality rate scenarios that result from a different combination of vaccine effectiveness in preventing deaths and the efforts in detecting infections among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Results: In the presence of vaccines, the case fatality rate depends not only on the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing deaths, but also on the detection of breakthrough infections. As a result, a decline in the case fatality rate may not imply that vaccines are being effective in reducing deaths. Likewise, a constant case fatality rate can still mean that vaccines are effective in reducing deaths.

Conclusions: Unless vaccinated people are also tested, the case fatality rate loses its meaning in tracking the pandemic. This shows that unless efforts are directed at detecting breakthrough infections, it is hard to disentangle the effect of vaccines in reducing deaths from the probability of detecting infections on the case fatality rate.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Breakthrough Infections; COVID-19; Case-Fatality Rate; Vaccine effectiveness
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems (EM)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS) > Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing (SHAW)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2022 12:17
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2022 07:12
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/17953

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