The economic burden on the healthcare system in caring for neurodevelopmental disability in early childhood caused by congenital HCMV infection is substantial. Congenital HCMV infection is the most common infectious cause of brain damage in children, and HCMV causes more hearing loss in children than did Haemophilus influenzae meningitis in the pre-Hib vaccine era (Pass 1996). The economic costs to society associated with congenital HCMV infection present a compelling argument for vaccine development. In the early 1990s, the expense to the US healthcare system associated with congenital HCMV infection was estimated at approximately $1.9 billion annually, with an average cost per child of over $300,000 (Aran et al. 2004). Children with congenital HCMV infection often require long-term custodial care and extensive medical and surgical interventions. A recent economic analysis by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) examined the theoretical cost-effectiveness of a hypothetical HCMV vaccine based on quality adjusted life years (QALYs). QALYs quantify the acute and chronic problems caused by an illness. Employing this model, the more severe or permanent the sequelae, the larger the potential benefit conferred by an effective intervention will be. Not surprisingly, a hypothetical HCMV vaccine administered to 12-year-olds was in the level 1 group (the group for which a vaccine development strategy would save society money), and in fact was the single most cost-effective vaccine identified (Stratton et al. 1999). Thus, the economic benefit of HCMV vaccination holds the highest priority for any hypothetical new vaccine.
Was this article helpful?