COVID-19 vaccines have prevented 20 million deaths worldwide

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Scientists from Imperial College London found that COVID-19 vaccines reduced the potential global death toll during the pandemic by more than half in the year following their implementation.

They found that in the first year of the vaccination program, 19.8 million out of a potential 31.4 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented worldwide.

They also estimated a further 599,300 lives could have been saved if the World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 40% of the population in each country with two or more doses by the end of 2021 had been met.

The research is published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases and was conducted by Dr. Oliver Watson et al.

In the study, the team used an established model of COVID-19 transmission using country-level data for officially recorded COVID-19 deaths occurring between 8 December 2020 and 8 December 2021.

The team found that, based on officially recorded COVID-19 deaths, an estimated 18.1 million deaths would have occurred during the study period if vaccinations had not been implemented.

Of these, the model estimates that vaccination has prevented 14.4 million deaths, representing a global reduction of 79%.

They found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented an estimated 19.8 million deaths out of a total of 31.4 million potential deaths that would have occurred without vaccination, a reduction of 63%.

These findings offer the most complete assessment to date of the remarkable global impact that vaccination has had on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the almost 20 million deaths estimated to have been prevented in the first year after vaccines were introduced, almost 7.5 million deaths were prevented in countries covered by the COVID-19 Vaccine Access initiative (COVAX).

This initiative was set up because it was clear early on that global vaccine equity would be the only way out of the pandemic.

Our findings show that millions of lives have likely been saved by making vaccines available to people everywhere, regardless of their wealth. However, more could have been done.

The team says if the targets set out by the WHO had been achieved, they estimate that roughly 1 in 5 of the estimated lives lost due to COVID-19 in low-income countries could have been prevented.

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