Covid vax prevented over 42 lakh deaths in India: Lancet

Published: Publish Date – 11:45am, Fri – 24 Jun 22

New Delhi: Vaccines developed to fight Covid-19 have prevented more than 42 lakh potential deaths in India by 2021, according to a mathematical modeling study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The estimates based on additional deaths from 185 countries and territories showed that 19.8 million of the potential 31.4 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide were prevented in the first year of the vaccination program.

An additional 599,300 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.

“Our findings show that millions of lives have likely been saved by making vaccines available to people everywhere, regardless of wealth. However, more could have been done. If the WHO targets had been met, we estimate that approximately 1 in 5 of the estimated lives lost to Covid-19 in low-income countries could have been prevented,” said lead author Dr. Oliver Watson of Imperial College. London.

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

Despite the incredible speed of the vaccine’s global rollout, more than 3.5 million Covid deaths have been reported.

However, the team found that, based on officially recorded Covid deaths, there would have been an estimated 18.1 million deaths during the study period had the vaccinations not been implemented.
The Covid-19 Vaccine Access Initiative (COVAX) has facilitated access to affordable vaccines for lower-income countries to try and reduce inequalities, with an initial goal of giving two doses of vaccine to 20 percent of the population in countries that are covered by the commitment of the end of 2021.

The WHO expanded on this goal by establishing a global strategy to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the world’s population by mid-2022, with an interim goal of vaccinating 40 percent of the population of all countries by the end of 2021.

“Ensuring fair access to vaccines is crucial, but requires more than just donating vaccines. Improvements in vaccine distribution and infrastructure, as well as coordinated efforts to combat vaccine misinformation and improve vaccine demand, are needed. Only then can we ensure that everyone can benefit from these life-saving technologies,” said Prof Azra Ghani, Chair of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial.

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