Periodic resurgences of COVID-19 in the coming years can be expected, while public health interventions may be able to reduce their intensity. We used a transmission model to assess how the use of booster doses and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) amid ongoing pathogen evolution might influence future transmission waves. We find that incidence is likely to increase as NPIs relax, with a second seasonally driven surge expected in autumn 2022. However, booster doses can greatly reduce the intensity of both waves and reduce cumulative deaths by 20% between 7 January 2022 and 7 January 2023. Reintroducing NPIs during the autumn as incidence begins to increase again could also be impactful. Combining boosters and NPIs results in a 30% decrease in cumulative deaths, with potential for greater impacts if variant-adapted boosters are used. Reintroducing these NPIs in autumn 2022 as transmission rates increase provides similar benefits to sustaining NPIs indefinitely (307 000 deaths with indefinite NPIs and boosters compared with 304 000 deaths with transient NPIs and boosters). If novel variants with increased transmissibility or immune escape emerge, deaths will be higher, but vaccination and NPIs are expected to remain effective tools to decrease both cumulative and peak health system burden, providing proportionally similar relative impacts.
Kraay ANM, Gallagher ME, Ge Y, Han P, Baker JM, Koelle K, Handel A, Lopman BA. The role of booster vaccination and ongoing viral evolution in seasonal circulation of SARS-CoV-2. J R Soc Interface. 2022 Sep;19(194):20220477.