COVID-19 vaccines saved 20 million lives during first year of distribution, study

The study measures "how much worse the pandemic could have been if we did not have these vaccines," leading scientist said

Updated: June 24, 2022 - 9:31am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

COVID-19 vaccines saved nearly 20 million lives during their first year, according to a study published this week.

Oliver Watson of the Imperial College London led the new modeling study about the vaccines. He called the potential outcome of the last 18-months should the vaccine not have been available "catastrophic."

His modeling study findings were published in Lancet Infectious Diseases and reportedly "quantify just how much worse the pandemic could have been if we did not have these vaccines."

Researchers used data from 185 countries to estimate that the vaccines prevented about 4.2 million virus deaths in India, 1.9 million in the United States, 1 million in Brazil, more than 631,000 in France and half-a-million in the U.K.

More lives, about 600,000, would have been saved had the World Health Organization's target of 40% vaccination coverage by the end of 2021 been met, say the researchers.

The study, which found that 19.8 million COVID deaths were prevented by vaccines, bases its estimations on how many more deaths than usual occurred during the time period. When using only reported COVID deaths, the same model yields a figure of 14.4 million averted deaths due to vaccines.

The scientists excluded China from their study due to ongoing uncertainty the veracity of the country's virus-related death toll among its huge population.

The study also concluded the global vaccination campaign resulted in over 4.3 billion people lining up to receive the shots. 

The study was funded by several organizations, including the WHO, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.