medRxiv. 2020 Sep 5:2020.09.03.20187062. doi: 10.1101/2020.09.03.20187062. Preprint.
BACKGROUND: Decisions around US college and university operations will affect millions of students and faculty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We examined the clinical and economic value of different COVID-19 mitigation strategies on college campuses.
METHODS: We used the Clinical and Economic Analysis of COVID-19 interventions (CEACOV) model, a dynamic microsimulation that tracks infections accrued by students and faculty, accounting for community transmissions. Outcomes include infections, $/infection-prevented, and $/quality-adjusted-life-year ($/QALY). Strategies included extensive social distancing (ESD), masks, and routine laboratory tests (RLT). We report results per 5,000 students (1,000 faculty) over one semester (105 days).
RESULTS: Mitigation strategies reduced COVID-19 cases among students (faculty) from 3,746 (164) with no mitigation to 493 (28) with ESD and masks, and further to 151 (25) adding RLTq3 among asymptomatic students and faculty. ESD with masks cost $168/infection-prevented ($49,200/QALY) compared to masks alone. Adding RLTq3 ($10/test) cost $8,300/infection-prevented ($2,804,600/QALY). If tests cost $1, RLTq3 led to a favorable cost of $275/infection-prevented ($52,200/QALY). No strategies without masks were cost-effective.
CONCLUSION: Extensive social distancing with mandatory mask-wearing could prevent 87% of COVID-19 cases on college campuses and be very cost-effective. Routine laboratory testing would prevent 96% of infections and require low cost tests to be economically attractive.