In a recent study at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and elsewhere, researchers found that cutting the COVID-19 infectious period could prevent millions of cases.
They showed that a vaccine or medication that could shorten the infectious period of COVID-19 may potentially prevent millions of cases and save billions of dollars.
The study is published in PLOS Computational Biology. One author is Bruce Lee.
To clarify the potential value of shortening the infectious period, the team developed a computational model that simulates the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
They used the model to explore how a vaccine or medication that can reduce the contagious period might alleviate the clinical and economic impact of the disease.
The results showed that reducing the contagious period by half a day could avert up to 1.4 million cases and over 99,000 hospitalizations, saving $209.5 billion in direct medical and indirect costs—even if only a quarter of people with symptoms were treated—and incorporating conservative estimates of how contagious the virus maybe.
Under the same circumstances, cutting the contagious period by 3.5 days could avert up to 7.4 million cases.
Expanding such treatment to 75 percent of everyone infected could avert 29.7 million cases and save $856 billion.
These findings could help guide research and investments into the development of vaccines or medications that reduce the infectious period of SARS-CoV-2.
They could also help government agencies plan the rollout of such products and provide cost insights to guide reimbursement policies for third-party payers.
The researchers say there may be a tendency to overlook vaccines and other treatments that don’t prevent a COVID-19 infection or cure disease.
But this study showed that even relatively small changes in how long people are contagious can significantly affect the transmission and spread of the virus and thus save billions of dollars and avert millions of new cases.
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