HAP Blog

How New Boosters, Variants Affect COVID-19 Outlook

Experts weigh potential scenarios for fall, winter

September 06, 2022

With the upcoming rollout of the reformulated COVID-19 boosters, public health forecasters are making predictions about what the spread of the virus could look like during the coming months.

The latest projections from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub offer a glimpse at how cases and hospitalizations could change between August 2022 and May 2023. While the upcoming months are hard to predict, it’s expected that the updated booster shots will play a role in determining how severe the pandemic’s next phase will be.

“Early distribution of reformulated boosters starting in mid-September is expected to decrease hospitalizations in early fall,” analysts with the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub said.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • An early booster campaign:  Without a new variant, boosters have the potential to prevent 2.4 million cases, 137,000 hospitalizations, and 9,700 deaths from August 2022 and May 2023.
  • Best and worst case scenarios:  A scenario with a new variant and a later booster campaign could lead to 1.3 million hospitalizations and 181,000 deaths. That’s compared to just 700,000 hospitalizations and 111,000 deaths in the most optimistic scenario without a new variant and an earlier booster rollout.
  • By the numbers:  An early booster campaign could potentially avert “6–12% of cases, 10–16% of hospitalizations, and 12–15% of deaths, depending on the variant scenario,” the report said.
  • Caveats:  Vaccine coverage, durability, and efficacy will play an important role in the next phase of the pandemic. The modeling hub assumes the reformulated boosters will be about 80 percent effective against symptomatic disease after vaccination. A new variant could potentially change the efficacy of the updated boosters, as well.
  • Quotable:  “In the absence of a new variant, and with a late vaccination campaign, hospitalizations are projected to remain stable and gradually decline until the end of the year,” the modeling hub’s analysts said.

The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub’s latest projections are available online. The projections combine insights from multiple models and consider scenarios that could unfold to inform the general public, health care experts, and other decision-makers.

Additional COVID-19 models and state-by-state projections also are available.

HAP encourages everyone to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. Getting vaccinated is one way you can help limit the spread of the virus and protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

Learn more about vaccine options in your region.

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