(ORDO NEWS) — Covid-19 vaccines have helped to significantly change the course of the pandemic, saving tens of millions of lives around the world in just a year.
However, the effect would be greater were it not for uneven access to vaccines in low-income countries, Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean regions.
Mass vaccination against coronavirus, which was announced at the end of 2020, saved about 20 million lives in one year. This conclusion was made by scientists from the Imperial College London (Great Britain), who built a mathematical model. The results of their work are published in The Lancet.
Scientists consider December 8, 2020, when 90-year-old British resident Margaret Keenan was the first in the world to be vaccinated with a drug from Pfizer and BioNTech, scientists consider the start date of vaccination to be December 8, 2020.
Recall, by the way, that Russia registered Sputnik-V on August 11, 2020, but mass immunization started here on January 18, 2021.
By December 8, 2021, 55.9% of the world’s population had received at least the first component, 45.5% received two doses, and 4.3% were revaccinated.
“Despite the incredible speed with which Covid-19 vaccines were developed in 2020 and subsequently distributed throughout 2021, more than three and a half million deaths from coronavirus have been recorded worldwide since the first vaccination,” the researchers write.
In the first months of 2021, the impact of vaccination was minimal due to various infrastructure issues, a delay in the production of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, and a “waiting” period between the first and second shots.
In addition, due to the limited supply of drugs, most countries decided to immunize only at-risk groups first.
They started doing this en masse from the middle of the year, and then they launched a revaccination program. However, in the end, this alignment, according to scientists, led to “huge inequalities in the global distribution of vaccines.”
The researchers used not only data on transmission of coronavirus, vaccination, but also took information on deaths from Covid-19 and excess deaths from all causes in 185 countries and territories.
Among other things, they estimated how many additional deaths could have been prevented if the 40% vaccination coverage target set by WHO had been achieved by the end of 2021.
“Based on officially reported deaths from Covid-19, we estimate that vaccination prevented 14.4 million deaths from coronavirus from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021.
This estimate reached 19.8 million averted deaths from Covid-19 when we accounted for excess deaths as an indicator of the true extent of the pandemic,” the scientists write.
Thus, in the first year, vaccinations reduced the number of deaths from SARS-CoV-2 by 63% of the total (according to the authors of the work, only 31.4 million people would have died during this period if there were no vaccines at all).
The number of lives saved was greatest in high-income countries, with a particularly strong effect in Europe, highlighting the importance of an earlier and more widespread immunization campaign.
Meanwhile, 96 states and administrative regions have not reached the WHO goal of vaccinating 40% of the population by the end of 2021. If they succeeded, 599,300 people would be alive, the researchers summed up.
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