Coronavirus vaccinations prevented almost 27 million Covid-19 infections, 1.6 million hospitalizations and 235,000 deaths among American adults in the first nine months they were available, according to a new study published Wednesday that was cast as evidence of the vaccines’ crucial role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic.
The study, published by JAMA Network Open, suggested the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines prevented 58% of coronavirus deaths that would have occurred otherwise between December 2020 and September 2021.
Researchers used mathematical models and vaccine effectiveness figures to estimate the number of coronavirus infections, deaths, and hospitalizations, organizing data by age group and multiplying it by different factors like probability of testing.
The majority of hospitalizations and deaths that were prevented by vaccines were among adults ages 50 and over, while most of the 26.7 million prevented infections were among adults under 50, who tend to face a lower risk of severe Covid-19 than older people, the study estimated.
The study’s authors—which include epidemiologists and biostatistics experts—emphasized the importance of vaccines in combating Covid-19.
In an attached commentary section, a group of researchers cautioned the study’s findings relied on “incomplete national data” from health records because there is no national database, adding that there are currently “limitations” on ways of measuring vaccine effectiveness.
“We are unlikely to ever know the exact number of people saved by the nationwide vaccination campaign, but we do know that vaccination is our most powerful tool for preventing severe disease and death,” infectious disease experts wrote in their commentary Wednesday.
The worldwide Covid-19 vaccine campaign is the largest in history, with more than 12.1 billion doses distributed throughout 184 countries. Some 222.3 million Americans—or 66.9% of the population—-are fully vaccinated, including 91.5% of adults over 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other research has suggested the vaccines cut the coronavirus’ death toll substantially: One study found Covid-19 vaccines saved almost 20 million lives worldwide during the first year they were introduced, while another study suggested nearly 240,000 Covid-19 deaths could have been prevented with “timely” vaccinations. The same study, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found unvaccinated adults made up the majority of Covid-19 deaths, at 60% in February.
1.01 million. That’s how many Americans in total have died from Covid-19, according to the CDC.
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