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  • Ryan Wittler

COVID Vaccines May Have Prevented 20 Million Deaths Worldwide


A new study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases from researchers at Imperial College London estimates COVID vaccines prevented 19.8 million global deaths in the first year they were available.

Study highlights:

The study estimates COVID vaccines prevented 19.8 million excess deaths in 185 countries from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021, including 14.4 million directly due to COVID.

  • The World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX initiative expanding access to COVID vaccines worldwide alone prevented an estimated 7.4 million deaths.

  • High and upper-middle income countries accounted for the most prevented deaths at 12.2 million, highlighting disparities in vaccine access around the world.

The researchers found another 599,300 deaths could have been prevented if the WHO’s goal of vaccinating 40% of the population by the end of 2021 had been met.

  • Most of these deaths (348,900) were concentrated in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean regions.

  • If the 40% goal had been met by all low-income countries, the number of deaths averted in those areas would have more than doubled.

Why it matters:

The researchers say their study is the first to estimate the impact of COVID vaccines on a global scale and the first to assess both direct and indirect deaths averted.

  • “Our findings offer the most complete assessment to date of the remarkable global impact that vaccination has had on the COVID-19 pandemic,” said lead author Oliver Watson.

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