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COVID-19 vaccines saved 240K American lives in first 6 months, study suggests

Vilches TN, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.42725.

January 14, 2022

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disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.


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The COVID-19 vaccination in the United States saved nearly a quarter of a million lives in the first 6 months shots were available compared to a scenario where there were no vaccines, researchers estimate.

The researchers created a model that simulated two pandemic trajectories: one without vaccines and one with a vaccine program “reaching only half the daily vaccination rate of the actual rollout.”

Vilches TN, et al. JAMA Netw Open.  2022;doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.42725.
Vilches TN, et al. JAMA netw Open. 2022;doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.42725.

“For each scenario, cumulative infections, hospitalizations and deaths were compared to the simulated trends under the U.S. vaccination program,” they explained.

According to the results, COVID-19 vaccines saved an estimated 240,797 lives (95% Crl, 200,665-281,230) and prevented an estimated 1,133,617 hospitalizations (95% Crl, 967,487-1,301,881) from December 12, 2020 to June 30. 2021. The number Preventing COVID-19 cases was estimated at more than 14 million.

According to the researchers, vaccinations have prevented a wave of COVID-19 cases, driven by the alpha variant, that would have occurred in April 2021 if not for vaccines. The wave had an estimated peak of 4,409 deaths (95% Crl, 2,865-6,312) and 17,979 hospitalizations (95% Crl, 13,191-23,219).

If vaccinations were administered at half the reported rate, the authors estimate that the US would still have suffered 77,283 deaths (95% Crl, 48,499-104,519) and 336,000 hospitalizations (95% Crl, 225,330-440,109).

“As New Variants of SARS-CoV-2” keep popping up, a renewed commitment to access to vaccines, especially among disadvantaged groups and in countries with low vaccination coverage, will be crucial to prevent preventable COVID-19 cases and end the pandemic,” the authors wrote.

About the author

Anna Wintour

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