Covid vaccines saved 20 million lives in first year, scientists say

Study estimates that 4.2 million deaths were prevented in India and 1.9 million were averted in the US

<p>A Covid-19 vaccine is prepared  </p>

A Covid-19 vaccine is prepared

Almost 20 million lives have been saved globally by Covid-19 vaccines, researchers have said.

The new study was based on an assessment of 185 countries’ data on vaccination rates, coronavirus fatalities and excess death records.

Oliver Watson, the Imperial College London academic who led the research, said the number of deaths would have been “catastrophic” if vaccines had been unavailable.

The researcher added that the vaccine rollout has been marred by inequity, but that it has ultimately stopped around 19.8 million extra deaths worldwide.

The results of the study “quantify just how much worse the pandemic could have been if we did not have these vaccines”, he said.

His group’s modelling, which did not include China due to uncertainty around the number of deaths there, found that jabs had likely prevented 4.2 million deaths in India and 1.9 million in the US.

A further 1 million people were saved in Brazil, along with 631,000 in France and 507,000 in the UK, according to the study, which was published on Thursday in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

Another group of scientists, who work at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, recently estimated that 16.3 million Covid deaths were averted because of vaccines.

More than 4.3 billion people queued for vaccines around the world in the 12 months from 8 December 2020, when the British grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a shot outside of a trial.

Despite calls for vaccine equality, there is still an enormous disparity between the Covid-19 vaccination levels seen in richer and poorer nations. Less than a fifth of people in African countries have been fully vaccinated, compared to more than 80 per cent in many European countries.

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