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COVID Vaccines Have Already Saved 20 Million Lives

COVID Vaccines Have Already Saved 20 Million Lives

Nearly 20 million lives were saved by COVID-19 vaccines during their first year, but even more deaths could have been prevented if international targets for the shots had been reached, researchers reported on Thursday. The researchers used data from 185 countries to estimate that vaccines prevented 4.2 million COVID-19 deaths in India, 1.9 million in the United States, 1 million in Brazil, 631,000 in France, and 507,000 in the United Kingdom. An additional 600,000 deaths would have been prevented if the World Health Organization target of 40% vaccination coverage by the end of 2021 had been met, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

But now that the vaccines are available to children five and under, those same researchers say they’re optimistic that the number will only increase in the second year of availability.

A nurse administers a pediatric dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to a girl at a L.A. Care Health Plan vaccination clinic at Los Angeles Mission College in the Sylmar neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, January 19, 2022. – While cases of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in California, officials are seeing early signs that the Omicron surge is slowing. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The findings highlight both the achievements and the shortcomings of the vaccination campaign, but the main takeaway is that 19.8 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented, based on estimates of how many more deaths than usual occurred during the time period. Using only reported COVID-19 deaths, the same model yielded 14.4 million deaths averted by vaccines.

The researchers did not include how the virus might have mutated differently in the absence of vaccines. And they did not factor in how lockdowns or mask-wearing might have changed if vaccines weren’t available.

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