Covid vaccines caused nearly 20 million deaths in the first year after they were introduced, according to the first large modeling study on the topic released Friday.
The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, is based on data from 185 countries and territories collected from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021.
It is the first attempt to estimate the number of deaths that have been prevented directly and indirectly as a result of Covid-19 vaccines.
It found that 19.8 million of the 31.4 million potential deaths that would have occurred had no vaccines been available.
The study found that it was a 63 percent reduction.
The study used official numbers – or estimates when official data was not available – for deaths from Covid, as well as total excess deaths from each country.
The excess death rate is the difference between the total number of people who died from all causes and the number of deaths expected based on past data.
These analyzes were compared with a hypothetical alternative scenario where no vaccine was administered.
The model took into account variation in vaccination rates across countries, as well as differences in vaccine efficacy based on the types of vaccines known to be primarily used in each country.
She added that China was not included in the study due to its large population and strict containment measures that would have skewed the results.
The study found that high- and middle-income countries account for the largest number of averted deaths, 12.2 million out of 19.8 million, reflecting inequality in access to vaccines worldwide.
It concluded that nearly 600,000 additional deaths could have been prevented if the WHO’s goal of vaccinating 40 percent of each country’s population had been met by the end of 2021.
“Millions of lives may have been saved by making vaccines available to people around the world,” said lead study author Oliver Watson of Imperial College London.
“We could have done more,” he said.
According to the World Health Organization, Covid has officially killed more than 6.3 million people globally.
But the organization said last month that the true number could be as high as 15 million, when accounting for all direct and indirect causes.
The numbers are highly sensitive because they reflect the way authorities around the world are handling the crisis.
The virus is back on the rise again in some places, including in Europe, which is seeing a resurgence of warm weather some of which is attributable to the Omicron sub-variables.