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Covid vaccines cut global death toll by 20m in first year, study finds

Covid vaccines cut the global death toll by 20 million in the first year after they were available, according to the first major analysis.

The study, which modelled the spread of the disease in 185 countries and territories between December 2020 and December 2021, found that without Covid vaccines 31.4 million people would have died, and that 19.8 million of these deaths were avoided. The study is the first attempt to quantify the number of deaths prevented directly and indirectly as a result of Covid-19 vaccinations.

“We knew it was going to be a large number, but I did not think it would be as high as 20 million deaths during just the first year,” said Oliver Watson, of Imperial College London, who is a co-first author on the study carried out by scientists at the university.

Many more deaths could have been prevented if access to vaccines had been more equal worldwide. Nearly 600,000 additional deaths – one in five of the Covid deaths in low-income countries – could have been prevented if the World Health Organization’s global goal of vaccinating 40% of each country’s population by the end of 2021 had been met, the research found.

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

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Source: The Guardian, 24 June 2022


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