National interest may require distributing COVID-19 vaccines to other countries

Tiziano Rotesi*, Paolo Pin, Maria Cucciniello, Amyn A. Malik, Elliott E. Paintsil, Scott E. Bokemper, Kathryn Willebrand, Gregory A. Huber, Alessia Melegaro, Saad B. Omer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

As immunization campaigns are accelerating, understanding how to distribute the scarce doses of vaccines is of paramount importance and a quantitative analysis of the trade-offs involved in domestic-only versus cooperative distribution is still missing. In this study we use a network Susceptible-Infected-Removed (SIR) model to show circumstances under which it is in a country’s self-interest to ensure other countries can obtain COVID-19 vaccines rather than focusing only on vaccination of their own residents. In particular, we focus our analysis on the United States and estimate the internal burden of COVID-19 disease under different scenarios about vaccine cooperation. We show that in scenarios in which the US has reached the threshold for domestic herd immunity, the US may find it optimal to donate doses to other countries with lower vaccination coverage, as this would allow for a sharp reduction in the inflow of infected individuals from abroad.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18253
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date14 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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