COVID-19 vaccines saved around 20 million lives in 185 countries and territories in first year: Study

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  • On December 8, 2020, the first COVID-19 vaccine was delivered outside of a clinical trial setting
  • As of December 8, 2021, “an estimated 55.9% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 45.5% has received an estimated two doses, and an estimated 4.3% has received a booster dose”
  • Although COVID-19 vaccines were developed in 2020 and then spread at an incredible rate in 2021, more than 3.5 million deaths have been attributed to the virus worldwide since the first vaccine was administered.

New Delhi: In the first year after they were introduced, COVID-19 vaccines prevented nearly 20 million deaths, according to the first major mathematical modeling study on the subject published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Friday.

The report is based on data collected from 185 countries and territories between December 8, 2020 and December 8, 2021.

It is the first study to attempt to estimate how many deaths have been directly and indirectly prevented by COVID-19 vaccinations.

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The study claimed that vaccines prevented 19.8 million deaths of the 31.4 million deaths that would have occurred if vaccines were not available.

In other words, vaccines prevented 63 percent of deaths.


For the study, a mathematical model of COVID-19 transmission and vaccination was separately adapted to figures of COVID-19 and all-cause mortality in 185 countries and territories. “The impact of COVID-19 vaccination programs was determined by estimating the additional lives lost if vaccines had not been distributed. We also estimated the additional deaths that would have been prevented if the 20% vaccination coverage targets had been set by COVAX and 40% set by the WHO by the end of 2021 have been reached,” reported The Lancet Infectious Diseases

“Basically, the model is a population-based, age-structured model of susceptible-exposed-infectious-recoverable-susceptible (SEIRS),” it added.

Due to the large population and containment measures, China was not included in the study, which would have influenced the results.


Of the 19.8 million deaths avoided, 12.2 million were in high- and middle-income countries, with unequal access to vaccines around the world.

The study concluded that nearly 600,000 additional deaths could have been prevented if the World Health Organization (WHO) had reached its goal of vaccinating 40 percent of the population in each country by the end of 2021, the news agency reported. AFP

“Millions of lives are likely saved by making vaccines available to people around the world,” said lead study author Oliver Watson of Imperial College London.

He added: “We could have done more.”

More than 6.3 million people worldwide have died as a result of COVID-19, according to the WHO. Last month, the organization claimed the number could reach 15 million when both direct and indirect causes are taken into account.

The figure makes a powerful statement about how authorities around the world have handled the crisis.

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Some areas, such as Europe, are seeing a resurgence of the virus, partly attributed to Omicron subvariants due to the warm weather.

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