How insurance actuaries view the vaccine rollout

From the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group, Bulletin #87

Basically, think of this as the “number needed to treat” (NNT) of vaccinations. If we vaccinate 20 people in a care home for older adults, we expect to prevent one death. If we vaccinate 2,000 people age 60 and over, we prevent one death. If we vaccinate 47,000 younger workers without risk factors, we prevent one death.

This is from an analysis for the UK. Presumably the US would be on the similar “order of values”.

The CDC’s recommendations are similar but different.

The CDC groups 24M in groups 1 and 2 in Phase 1a.

Then an arbitrary group of 30M “essential workers” together with group 3, and half of group 4 (19M) in Phase 1b.

Then, lumps the other half of group 4, all of group 5 and 6 in Phase 1c (129M more people).

This comes to 202M people before getting to groups 7, 8, 9 and 10, which are all lumped together at the very end, even though there is a considerable difference in risk between groups 7-9, and group 10.

From the actuaries analysis, the insertion of a group of essential workers will delay vaccination of more vulnerable groups and may lead to an increase in deaths.

The UK appears to follow the above actuarial analysis in that the UK takes age into account. As groups expand, the UK then drops from 65+ to 60+, then 55+ earlier in the program.

Meanwhile, the UAE began its vaccination program today, and has put all those age 60+ at the front of the line.

In the U.S., by comparison, all those age 55 to 64 are moved to the end of the line in to the last 10% to be vaccinated.

This observation calls into question whether there is any scientific-basis for anything done in public health – here, we are told that the science supports vaccinating these groups early (actuaries, UK, UAE, possibly others), while simultaneously told that science supports vaccinating these groups last (CDC). Both cannot be true.

Unfortunately, this again illustrates that the underpinnings of public health are lacking in evidence.

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