A new UK study on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines found they prevented nearly 20 million deaths in the first year of the pandemic, reports RÚV. The results are published in the medical journal The Lancet.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Imperial College London, is based on data from 185 nations and territories, with China notably excluded. Researchers collected data from December 8, 2020, when the first vaccines were given to the public, through December 8, 2021.
In this first year of vaccination, almost 56% of the world had received at least one dose of vaccine and 45.5% had received at least two doses. Only 4.3% had received the third booster dose.
This is the first scientific study conducted worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic, which assesses whether a vaccine against COVID has directly or indirectly prevented deaths due to the disease.
The researchers used a probability calculation to conclude the vaccine prevented 19.8 million deaths. The vaccine saved the lives of almost 20 million patients out of the more than 31 million deaths that would otherwise have occurred if people had not been vaccinated. According to the study, vaccines thus prevented two-thirds of deaths that would otherwise have occurred.
More deaths in high- and middle-income countries were prevented, or 12.2 million deaths out of 19.8. In the countries with lower incomes, 7.6 million deaths were prevented. This demonstrates the inequality and accessibility issues of vaccines based on socioeconomic status.
The World Health Organization says around 6.3 million people have died from COVID worldwide. However, the agency estimates the death toll could be as high as 15 million, when direct and indirect causes are taken into account. In Iceland, meanwhile, there have been 192,991 cases of COVID-19 and 153 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to WHO reports.
The Directorate of Health states most serious cases of COVID occur in people over 80 and those with underlying immune conditions, so these groups are encouraged to receive a fourth dose of the vaccine.
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