COVID-19 vaccines prevented 42L deaths in India in 2021: Report
A recent study stated that COVID-19 vaccines helped prevent more than 42 lakh potential deaths in India in 2021. The study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal found that the vaccines reduced the potential death count by nearly 20 million during the pandemic. The study was based on the findings of estimates of "excess" mortalities from 185 countries during the pandemic.
According to the study, nearly 19.8 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented worldwide in the first year of the vaccination program. The study also estimated another 5,99,300 lives could have been saved if the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2021 target of vaccinating 40% of the population in each country with two or more doses by the end of 2021 had been met.
The author of the study, Oliver Watson from UK's Imperial College London said that an estimated 42,10,000 deaths were prevented by vaccination in India between December 2020-21. This shows that the vaccination program in India has saved a million lives from the Delta variant. The Economist estimated that 2.3 million people died in India from COVID-19 by the start of May 2021.
"What this modeling 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 told PTI. Notably, the WHO had estimated that there were 4.7M deaths linked to COVID-19 in India.
The study further said that the COVID-19 Vaccine Access initiative (COVAX) prevented nearly 7.5 million deaths. COVAX facilitated vaccine availability in lower-income countries and created global equity in vaccine supply. It had an initial target of giving both vaccine doses to 20% of the population in countries covered by the commitment by the end of 2021, the researchers said.
The study noted that almost two-thirds of the world's population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since the first vaccine was administered outside of a clinical trial setting on December 8, 2020. However, more than 3.5 million COVID-19 deaths have also been reported in the same period. China was not surveyed because of its large population and strict lockdown measures.
Professor Azra Ghani, Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College said that the study demonstrated the remarkable effects of vaccination. However, they noted that there were several limitations to the study, such as their model which was based on a number of necessary assumptions, like the vaccine type, how and when they were delivered in the countries, and timings of the virus variants.