This paper uses large cross-country data for 110 countries to examine the effectiveness of COVID vaccination coverage. Our results confirm that vaccines are reasonably effective in both limiting the spread of infections and containing more severe disease progression in symptomatic patients. First, the results show that full vaccination rate is consistently negatively correlated with the number of new COVID cases, whereby a 10 percent increase in vaccination rate is associated with a 1.3 to 1.7 percent decrease in new COVID cases. Second, the magnitude of vaccination is shown to contribute significantly to moderating severe disease progression. On average, a 10 percent increase in the rate of vaccination leads to a reduction of about 5 percent in the number of new hospitalizations, 12 percent decrease in the number of new intensive care patients and 2 percent reduction in the number of new deaths. Finally, by comparing the data for the same period between 2020 and 2021, we also check how good is vaccination as a substitute for lockdowns or other stringent government protection measures. Results suggest that vaccination does not appear to be an effective substitute for more stringent government safety measures to contain the spread of COVID infections until a high vaccination coverage threshold (more than 70 percent) has been achieved. On the other hand, vaccination is shown to be quite effective in limiting the more severe course of the disease in symptomatic patients already at moderate vaccination coverage (between 40 and 70 percent). This suggests that vaccination can also help to reduce pressure on the health system and thus benefit the overall public health of society.
Vaccination is reasonably effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths with COVID-19
Jože P. Damijan
working paper 41/2021