The health and economic impact of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during its first year of rollout in the US is described in a new study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Economics.

It is estimated that in 2021 the vaccine, the most widely used against COVID-19 in the US, prevented 8.7 million symptomatic cases of the virus, as well as 690,000 hospitalizations and more than 110,000 deaths. The vaccine is also credited with saving more than $30 billion in healthcare costs and over $40 billion in lost productivity, according to the study.

The study’s authors — all of whom received funding from Pfizer, either as direct employees, consultants or employees of firms paid by Pfizer — used a model, real-world and trial data to estimate how many symptomatic COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths would have occurred that year if the vaccine had not been available.

They also estimated how much these cases would have cost the healthcare system and the wider economy.

Data fed into the model included information on the numbers vaccinated, the efficacy of the vaccine in different age groups, as well as the probability of catching COVID-19, developing symptoms and being hospitalized.

The effects of long COVID were also taken into account, as were the number of working days likely to have been lost due to short-term illness and the economic cost of premature deaths.

“The analyses show that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine contributed substantial public health impact in the US in 2021, and had a deep effect on the trajectory of the pandemic. It was estimated to prevent millions of COVID-19 symptomatic cases, thousands of hospitalizations and deaths, and generated billions in societal economic value in the US in 2021,” says researcher Manuela Di Fusco, of Pfizer’s health economics and outcomes research team.