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Iowa State Univ. researchers examine effectiveness of CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 10:57 AM CST
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AMES, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa State University researchers examined the effectiveness of the CDC’s vaccine rollout.

In the early days of COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Iowa had a very limited supply.

The CDC came up with phases and tiers to roll out the available vaccines.

Researchers at Iowa State University ran 17 million mathematical models of strategies the CDC could have used for the vaccine rollout.

They recorded and compared several metrics, including predicted deaths and number of cases. They also took into account the limited supply as well as hesitancy, knowing not everyone would be willing to get the vaccine.

Researchers found one metric could not be improved without impacting another.

For example, protecting older populations first, reducing deaths, or protecting middle-aged Americans, reducing cases.

Based on their analysis, the CDC’s strategy was close to optimal.

“How the CDC was not optimal was that they did not really focus or differentiate much between people who have pre-existing conditions that make you more likely to have a worse case of COVID and not,” Claus Kadelka, with the Iowa State Math Department, said. “They only looked at that in the general public, but they did not differentiate in any other group of the population.”

In other words, the CDC did not focus on people who had pre-existing conditions within each phase or tier. But Kadelka said that’s hard to measure, as some people don’t know they’re at higher risk.

Researchers are currently incorporating waning immunity of vaccines into the model to look at booster shots.

Specifically, they’re looking into how bad the situation could be if certain segments of the population don’t get a booster. And those results could inform decisions on outreach strategies for booster shots.

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