Study: Covid vaccines saved nearly 20 million lives in first year
High- and middle-income countries accounted for the largest number of deaths averted
Covid vaccines prevented nearly 20 million deaths in the first year after they were introduced, according to the first large modeling study on the topic released Friday.
The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, is based on data from 185 countries and territories collected from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021. It was the first attempt to estimate the number of deaths prevented directly and indirectly as a result of Covid vaccinations.
It found that 19.8 million deaths were prevented out of a potential 31.4 million deaths that would have occurred if no vaccines were available – a 63 percent reduction.
The study used official figures for deaths from Covid as well as each country’s excess mortality – the difference between the total number of people who died from all causes and the number of deaths expected based on past data.
These analyses were compared with a hypothetical alternative scenario in which no vaccine was administered.
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China was not included in the study because of its large population and strict containment measures, which would have skewed the results, the study noted.
It found that high- and middle-income countries accounted for the largest number of deaths averted – 12.2 million out of 19.8 million – reflecting inequalities in access to vaccines worldwide.
Nearly 600,000 additional deaths could have been prevented if the World Health Organization's (WHO) goal of vaccinating 40 percent of each country's population by the end of 2021 was met, it concluded.
Covid has officially killed more than 6.3 million people globally, according to the WHO.
But the organization said last month the real number could be as high as 15 million when all direct and indirect causes are accounted for.