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Covid-19 vaccination prevented 20 million deaths in 12 months, study finds

Covid-19 vaccinations prevented almost 20 million deaths in 12 months, according to an Imperial College London study. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Covid-19 vaccinations prevented almost 20 million deaths in 12 months, according to an Imperial College London study. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Jun 24, 2022

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Moscow – Covid-19 vaccinations prevented almost 20 million deaths in 12 months, according to an Imperial College London study.

The study, published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, analysed official reported Covid-19 deaths in 185 countries and territories between December 8, 2020, when the first vaccine was administered outside a clinical trial setting, and December 8, 2021.

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The impact of vaccination programs was determined by using a mathematical model of Covid-19 transmission and vaccination, adapted to reported Covid-19 mortality and all-cause excess mortality data, that is, by estimating additional deaths if vaccines were not distributed.

“Based on official reported Covid-19 deaths, we estimated that vaccinations prevented 14.4 million… deaths from Covid-19 in 185 countries and territories between December 8, 2020, and Decmber 8, 2021.

“This estimate rose to 19.8 million… deaths from Covid-19 averted when we used excess deaths as an estimate of the true extent of the pandemic, representing a global reduction of 63% in total deaths (19.8 million of 31.4 million) during the first year of Covid-19 vaccination,” the study says.

The COVAX Facility and the World Health Organisation (WHO) set vaccination coverage targets for all countries at 20% and 40%, respectively.

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In Advance Market Commitment countries 7.4 million (41%) of 17.9 million deaths were averted.

Had the COVAX and WHO targets been met by low-income countries by the end of 2021, additional 45% and 111% of deaths, respectively, could have been averted, according to the research.

The study concluded that although Covid-19 vaccination saved millions of lives globally, low-income countries still have inadequate access to vaccines, which limits the overall impact and demands vaccine equity.

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