Modeling HCV elimination recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: Pathways to regain progress

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

J Infect Public Health


BACKGROUND: As of 2019, the United States (US) was not on track to achieve targets for elimination, due to increasing incidence and treatment barriers. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted HCV services globally and in the US. As healthcare services normalize, there is an urgent need to reassess progress and evaluate scenarios that restore a pathway toward HCV elimination.

METHODS: We updated a validated Markov model to estimate HCV-related morbidity and mortality in the US. Five scenarios were developed to bookend possible HCV outcomes in the wake of the pandemic. These included 1) return to pre-COVID-19 treatment forecasts; 2) achieve elimination targets through treatment and harm reduction; 3) long-term treatment disruptions; 4/5) achieve elimination targets through increased treatment without increased harm reduction, starting in either 2022 or 2025.

FINDINGS: From 2014-2019, more than 1.2 million patients were treated for HCV in the US. Elimination targets in 2030 could be achieved in the US by treating an additional 3.2-3.3 million patients from 2020 to 2030, or by preventing new infections through expanded harm reduction programs and treating up to 2.7 million patients. Intervention scenarios could prevent over 30,000 HCC cases and over 29,000 liver-related deaths.

INTERPRETATION: The US has made strides toward HCV elimination, but gains could be lost in the wake of the pandemic. However, it is still possible to avert nearly 30,000 deaths through increased harm reduction and increased treatment rates. This requires a coordinated effort from the entire HCV community.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; United States; Pandemics; Antiviral Agents; COVID-19 Drug Treatment; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; COVID-19; Liver Neoplasms; Hepatitis C; Hepacivirus

PubMed ID






First Page


Last Page