closeup of a hand administering a shot

Value of Vaccines

Vaccines can save a life for far less than the cost of a latte. But for cash-strapped countries, every cent adds up.

By Christen Brownlee

What’s the return on their vaccine investment?

It’s potentially hundreds of billions of dollars, according to two new Bloomberg School studies.

Lead author Meghan L. Stack, MHS ’09, research associate at the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), and colleagues evaluated the potential economic benefit of the Decade of Vaccines—a global collaboration initiated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s pledge to invest $10 billion over 10 years. Results show that if its goals are achieved, governments and households in the poorest countries could save about $151 billion on treatment and productivity. The study was published in the June Health Affairs.

In the same issue, Sachiko Ozawa, PhD ’10, MHS ’07, assistant scientist, and colleagues calculated that saving 6.4 million children’s lives through the Decade of Vaccines would be worth $231 billion in the value of the lives saved.

“Donors are increasingly focused on value for money. We’re showing that the cost is dwarfed by benefits. If you spend this money, you’ll see tangible results,” says Orin Levine, PhD, senior author of both studies and IVAC director.