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COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign Prevented Nearly 140,000 U.S. Deaths: Study

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What You Need to Know

  • The study's authors arrived at their findings using publicly available data for both state vaccine administration and COVID-19 deaths.
  • The association the researchers found between vaccinations and averted deaths varied by state.
  • Reductions in deaths associated with vaccines translated to an economic benefit ranging from $625 billion to $1.4 trillion.

Americans have been receiving COVID-19 vaccines since the beginning of this year, with the expectation that doing so will slow virus transmission and save lives. But until now, it was unknown how vaccine administration has affected coronavirus-related deaths.

The journal Health Affairs released a preprint of a study this week whose authors say it is the first assessment of the effects of state-level vaccination campaigns to address the pandemic. They arrived at their findings using publicly available data for both state vaccine administration and COVID-19 deaths.

The researchers looked at the association between the early vaccination campaign in the U.S. and COVID-19 deaths in the first five months of vaccine availability.

By May 9, they write, the U.S. vaccination campaign was associated with a reduction of 139,393 deaths from the virus. 

The association the researchers found between vaccinations and averted deaths varied by state. For example, 11.7 fewer COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 occurred in New York during this period, while in Hawaii, the number was 1.1 fewer deaths per 10,000.

These reductions in deaths associated with vaccines translated to an economic benefit ranging between $625 billion and $1.4 trillion, according to the authors.

As of July 18, a year and a half into the pandemic, more than 4 million people had died from COVID-19 worldwide, including more than 600,000 people in the U.S., according to the authors, citing research from Johns Hopkins University

About 49% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated and 56% had received at least one dose, they write, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some states, such as Alabama and Mississippi, had fully vaccinated less than 34% of their populations, while Vermont had fully vaccinated 67% of its population.

“Our results suggest that further efforts to vaccinate populations globally and in a coordinated fashion will be critical to achieving greater control of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors conclude. “By providing insight into the initial impact of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, these estimates can inform public health, clinical and policy responses going forward.”