The coronavirus pandemic could have been much worse without vaccines, according to a new study that says the number of deaths recorded worldwide from the coronavirus would be more than three times what it is today.
In the year following the vaccine’s first introduction in December 2020, more than 4.3 billion people received an inoculation, saving 20 million lives, according to research published Thursday in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
If the World Health Organization’s goal of 40 percent vaccination coverage by the end of 2021 in low-income countries had been met, another 600,000 lives would have been saved, the study says.
The findings “quantify how much worse the pandemic would have been had we not had these vaccines,” said Oliver Watson, lead researcher at Imperial College London.
“Catastrophic would be the first word that comes to mind,” Watson said of the deaths that would have occurred without widespread vaccination.
According to Our World in Data, more than 6.3 million people have died from the coronavirus, including more than one million Americans. More than 40,000 New York City residents have died from the virus, health officials said.
The researchers studied data from all but ten of the 195 countries in the world and found that vaccines prevented 19.8 million total deaths, including 4.2 million in India and 1.9 million in the United States.
One million people in Brazil have also been spared from dying from the virus thanks to vaccines, as have more than half a million people in both France and the UK, the researchers said.
The study found that 14.4 million deaths were averted by taking into account only the deaths reported from COVID-19, but the number of lives saved rose dramatically when scientists took into account deaths likely related to the virus.
The study had some significant limitations. China, the most populous country in the world, was among the countries excluded from the study due to a lack of information on the effect of the virus on its vast citizenship, the researchers said. The effect of mask use, blockages and possible COVID-19 mutations in the absence of the virus were also not considered in the study.
An unpublished model from the Seattle Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that 16.3 million lives were saved by vaccines.
“We may disagree on the number as scientists, but we all agree that COVID vaccines have saved many lives,” said the institute’s Ali Mokdad, explaining that stricter policies would be implemented around the world. if vaccines were not available during the delta variant increase.
“Even though we did well enough this time – we saved millions and millions of lives – we could have done better and should do better in the future,” said Adam Finn of Bristol Medical School in England, who was not involved in the results. posted Thursday.
With AP wires