Covid-19 vaccines prevented over 42 lakh Covid-19 deaths in India in 2021, says Lancet study. Details here

Covid-19 vaccines may have helped reduce deaths to nearly a third of what they would have been worldwide, including about 2.7 million to 5.3 million in India, according to a new projection released. in the Lancet journal will be published on Friday.

Globally, the mathematical modeling study found that Covid-19 vaccines reduced the potential death toll during the pandemic by nearly 20 million (1 million = 10 lakhs) or more than half in the year after their implementation.

While in the first year of the vaccination program, 19.8 million of the potential 31.4 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide were prevented, according to estimates based on excess deaths from 185 countries and territories, the researchers said.

In addition, the study estimates that an additional 5,99,300 lives could have been saved if the World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 40 percent of the population in each country with two or more doses by the end of 2021 had been met. The study estimates the number of deaths prevented between December 8, 2020 and December 8, 2021, which corresponds to the first year the vaccines were distributed.

Oliver Watson, lead author of the study, from Imperial College London, UK, said: “For India, we estimate that 42.10,000 deaths were prevented from vaccination during this period. This is our central estimate, with the uncertainty in this estimate varying between 36.65,000-43.70,000.”

“What this pilot study shows is that the vaccination campaign in India probably saved millions of lives. This shows the remarkable impact that the vaccination has had, especially in India, which was the first country to experience the impact of the Delta variant.” Watson said in an email.

India’s figures are based on estimates that there may have been 51,60,000 (48.24,000-56,29,000) deaths in the country during the pandemic, a number 10 times higher than the official figure of 5,24,941 deaths reported. reported so far. he said.

“These estimates are based on the estimates of excess mortality in India during the Covid-19 pandemic, which we obtained from The Economist and are comparable to the estimates reported by the WHO. Our group also independently examined the Covid-19. death toll based on excess mortality reports and seroprevalence studies and arrived at comparable estimates nearly 10 times the official count,” Watson said.

According to estimates by The Economist, 2.3 million people died from Covid-19 in India in early May 2021, against official figures of around 200,000. The WHO last month had estimated there were 4.7 million Covid-related deaths in India, a figure that has been refuted by the government.

Of the nearly 20 million deaths estimated to have been prevented in the first year after vaccines were introduced, nearly 7.5 million were prevented in countries covered by the Covid-19 Vaccine Access Initiative (COVAX), the researchers said.

COVAX was founded because it was clear early on that global vaccine equality would be the only way out of the pandemic, they said.

The initiative has facilitated access to affordable vaccines for lower-income countries to try to reduce inequalities, with the first goal of providing both vaccine doses to 20 percent of the population in countries covered by the commitment by the end of 2021. the researchers said.

Since the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered outside of a clinical trial setting on Dec. 8, 2020, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine (66 percent), they noted.

Despite the incredible speed of the vaccine’s global rollout, more than 3.5 million Covid-19 deaths have been reported since the first vaccine was administered in December 2020, they said.

To estimate the impact of global vaccination programs, the researchers used an established model of Covid-19 transmission using country-level data for officially recorded Covid-19 deaths between December 8, 2020 and December 8, 2021.

To account for underreporting of deaths in countries with weaker surveillance systems, they conducted a separate analysis based on the number of additional deaths recorded above the number that would have been expected during the same period.

China was not included in the analysis due to its large population and very strict lockdown measures that would have skewed the findings, the researchers said.

The team found that based on officially recorded Covid-19 deaths, an estimated 18.1 million would have died 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 percent.

These findings do not account for underreporting of Covid-19 deaths, which is common in lower-income countries.

The team did a further analysis based on the total number of additional deaths over the same period to explain this.

They found that Covid-19 vaccination has prevented an estimated 19.8 million deaths out of a total of 31.4 million potential deaths that would have happened without vaccination, a 63 percent reduction.

More than three-quarters (79 percent) of the avoided deaths were due to the immediate protection against severe symptoms provided by the vaccination, leading to lower death rates, the researchers said.

The remaining 4.3 million averted deaths were estimated to have been prevented through indirect protection against reduced transmission of the virus in the population and a reduced burden on health care, improving access to medical care for those who need it most. they said.

The study found that the impact of the vaccine changed over time and in different parts of the world as the pandemic progressed.

In the first half of 2021, the greatest number of vaccine-prevented deaths were in lower-middle-income countries, as a result of the significant epidemic wave in India when the Delta variant emerged.

This then shifted to the greatest impact concentrated in higher-income countries in the second half of 2021 as restrictions on travel and social mixing were eased in some areas, leading to greater virus transmission.

Short of the WHO target to fully vaccinate 40 percent of the population of every country by the end of 2021 is estimated to have contributed to an additional 5,99,300 deaths worldwide that could have been prevented.

Low-middle-income countries were responsible for the majority of these deaths. “Our study demonstrates the tremendous benefit vaccines had in reducing deaths from Covid-19 worldwide,” said Professor Azra Ghani, chair of infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London.

“While the intense focus on the pandemic has now shifted, it is important that we ensure that the most vulnerable people in all parts of the world are protected from the ongoing spread of Covid-19 and from the other major diseases that disproportionately affect the poorest. keep hitting,” Ghani said.

The authors note several limitations to their findings. In particular, their model is based on a number of necessary assumptions, including the precise proportions of the vaccine types delivered, how they were delivered, and the precise timing of when new virus variants arrived in each country.

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