The Impact of COVID-19 Vaccination on the Italian Healthcare System: A Scenario Analysis.
Marcellusi A., Fabiano G., Sciattella P., Andreoni M., Mennini FS.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: During 2020, the only instruments for fighting against the pandemic peaks were lockdowns, physical distancing, closure of schools and non-essential businesses, and travel restrictions. The new vaccination strategy adopted in Italy in 2021 represented a new perspective for policymakers. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to estimate the effects of the national immunisation strategy for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Italy on the national healthcare system. METHODS: An epidemiological scenario analysis was developed in order to simulate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Italian national healthcare system in 2021. Hospitalisations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and death rates were modelled based on 2020 data. Costs were estimated using hospital admissions from the Policlinico of Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome. Two scenarios were tested, one with vaccination and the second without. RESULTS: The roll-out of vaccinations to protect against COVID-19 was estimated to prevent 52,115 deaths in 2021, 45.2% less than what was expected in the absence of immunisation. Based on the assumptions underlying the two epidemiological scenarios, our model predicted an overall reduction of 2.4 million hospital admissions and 259,000 ICU admissions (74.9% and 71.3% less, respectively, than the world without vaccinations between June and December 2021). Overall, in Italy, the model estimated over €3.0 billion costs of hospitalisations due to COVID-19 in 2020. In 2021, vaccines prevented around 36% of the overall costs. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study highlighting the effect of vaccines on the Italian healthcare system in terms of avoided cases, hospitalisations and costs. Our results have the potential to inform policymakers and the general population on the benefits of vaccinations.