Prime News, International, National, Health, Disease, Vaccine, London (United Kingdom), June 24:- COVID-19 vaccines prevented over 42 lakh potential deaths in India in 2021, said a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, which based its findings on estimates of “excess” mortalities in the country during the pandemic.
Globally, the mathematical modelling study found that COVID-19 vaccines reduced the potential death count during the pandemic by nearly 20 million or more than half in the year following their implementation.
In the first year of the vaccination programme, 19.8 million out of a potential 31.4 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented worldwide, according to estimates based on excess deaths from 185 countries and territories, the researchers said.
The study estimates a further 5,99,300 lives could have been saved if the World Health Organisation’s target of vaccinating 40 percent of the population in each country with two or more doses by the end of 2021 had been met.
The study estimated the number of deaths that were prevented between December 8, 2020 and December 8, 2021, which reflects the first year in which the vaccines were distributed.
“For India, we estimate that 42,10,000 deaths were prevented by vaccination in this period. This is our central estimate, with the uncertainty in this estimate ranging between 36,65,000-43,70,000,” lead author of the study, Oliver Watson from the Imperial College London, the UK, told PTI.
“What this modelling study shows is that the vaccination campaign in India has likely saved millions of lives. This shows the remarkable impact that the vaccination has had, especially in India, which was the first country to experience the impact of the Delta variant,” Watson said in an email.
The India numbers are based on the estimates that 51,60,000 (48,24,000-56,29,000) deaths may have occurred in the country during the pandemic, a number which is 10 times the official figure of 5,24,941 deaths reported so far, he said.
“These estimates are based on the estimates of excess mortality in India during the COVID-19 pandemic, which we have sourced from The Economist and are similar to the estimates that the WHO have reported. Independently, our group has also investigated the COVID-19 death count based on reports of excess mortality and seroprevalence surveys and arrived at similar estimates of almost 10 times the official count,” Watson said.
According to the estimates by The Economist, 2.3 million people died in India from COVID-19 by the start of May 2021, as against official figures of around 2,00,000.
The WHO had last month estimated that there were 4.7 million Covid-linked deaths in India, a figure that was refuted by the government.
Of the almost 20 million deaths estimated to have been prevented in the first year after vaccines were introduced, almost 7.5 million deaths were prevented in countries covered by the COVID-19 Vaccine Access initiative (COVAX), the researchers said.
COVAX was set up because it was clear early on that global vaccine equity would be the only way out of the pandemic, they said.
The initiative has facilitated access to affordable vaccines for lower income countries to try to reduce inequalities, with an initial target of giving both vaccine doses to 20 percent of the population in countries covered by the commitment by the end of 2021, the researchers said.
Since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered outside of a clinical trial setting on December 8, 2020, almost two-thirds of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (66 percent), they noted.
Despite the incredible speed of the vaccine roll-out worldwide, more than 3.5 million COVID-19 deaths have been reported since the first vaccine was administered in December 2020, they said. (MR, Inputs: Agencies)