Covid vaccines prevented over 42 lakh deaths in India in 2021: Lancet study


London, June 24

According to a modeling study published in The Lancet Infectious Disease journal, COVID-19 vaccines prevented more than 42 lakh potential deaths in India in 2021, based on estimates of “excess” mortality in the country during the pandemic.

Globally, the study, based on more deaths from 185 countries and territories, found that in the first year of the vaccination program, 198 million of a possible 314 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented worldwide.

The study estimates that 5.99 lakh lives could have been saved if the World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 40 percent of the population in each country with two or more doses by the end of 2021 was met.

The researchers estimated the number of deaths between December 8, 2020 and December 8, 2021, indicating the first year in which vaccines were distributed.

“For India, we estimate that immunization prevented 42,10,000 (over 42 lakh) deaths during this period. This is our central estimate, the uncertainty in this estimate is in the range of 36,65,000-43,70,000 (over 36.6 lakh to 43.7 lakh). ,

“This modeling study shows that the vaccination campaign in India has saved millions of lives. It shows the remarkable impact that vaccination has had, especially in India, the first country to experience the effects of the delta variant. Was,” Watson said in an email.

He said India’s numbers are based on estimates that between 48.2 lakh and 56.3 lakh people may have died in the country during the pandemic, 10 times the official figure of over 5.24 lakh deaths recorded so far.

“These are based on estimates of higher mortality rates in India during the COVID-19 pandemic, which we have obtained from The Economist and are similar to those reported by the WHO.

“Independently, our group has investigated COVID-19 deaths based on reports of additional mortality and seroprevalence surveys and have arrived at similar estimates of about 10 times the official count,” Watson said.

According to estimates by The Economist, COVID-19 killed 23 lakh people in India by early May 2021, while the official figure by then was around 2 lakh.

The WHO last month estimated that India had 4.7 million Covid-linked deaths, a figure the government denied.

Of the nearly 20 million deaths in the first year after vaccination, nearly 7.5 million were prevented in countries covered by the COVID-19 Vaccine Access Initiative (COVAX), the researchers said.

The initiative has facilitated access to affordable vaccines for low-income countries to try to reduce inequalities, with an initial goal of providing two doses to 20 percent of the population in countries covered by the commitment by the end of 2021. Is.

Professor Alison Galvani, from Yale University School of Public Health, US, said, “The unprecedented rapid pace of development and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, saving more than 19 million (1.9 million) lives, is an extraordinary global health achievement.” Told.

“Nevertheless, a more equitable distribution of vaccines could save millions of additional lives,” Galvani, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement.

Since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered outside a clinical trial setting on December 8, 2020, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (66 percent), they noted. .

The Union Health Ministry said that the cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in India has crossed 196.44 crore. Despite the incredible pace of vaccine roll-out around the world, there have been over 3.5 million COVID-19 deaths, the researchers said.

The researchers used an established model of COVID-19 transmission using country-level data for officially recorded COVID-19 deaths occurring between December 8, 2020 and December 8, 2021.

To account for the under-reporting of deaths in countries with weak surveillance systems, they conducted a separate analysis based on the number of deaths recorded higher than expected during the same time period.

The researchers said China was not included in the analysis because of its large population and very strict lockdown measures, which skewed the findings.

The team found that based on officially recorded COVID-19 deaths, an estimated 1.81 crore deaths would have occurred during the study period if vaccination had not been implemented.

Of these, the model estimates that vaccination has prevented 144 million deaths, representing a global reduction of 79 percent. These findings do not account for the under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths, which is common in low-income countries.

Another analysis, based on the total excess deaths during the same time period, found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented an estimated 1.98 crore deaths out of a total of 3.14 crore possible deaths that would have occurred without vaccination, a 63 percent reduction.

More than 79 percent of the deaths were due to direct protection against severe symptoms provided by vaccination, which led to a lower mortality rate, the researchers said.

He said the remaining 43 lakh deaths were prevented by indirect protection from low transmission of the virus in the population and by reducing the burden on health care systems.

“Our study demonstrates the enormous benefit of vaccines in reducing COVID-19 deaths globally,” said Professor Azra Ghani, Chair of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London.