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First five months of vaccination drive in US helped avert 1.4 lakh deaths, says study

T V Jayan New Delhi | Updated on August 28, 2021

Economic benefits of vaccinations is estimated to be as high as $1.4 trillion

In what could be the first ever effort to quantify benefits of Covid-19 vaccinations, a team of researchers, including an India-born health economist, has shown that the inoculations helped America save 1,40,000 lives in the first five months since their introduction in December last year.

In addition, these reductions in Covid-19 deaths associated with vaccines translates to a statistical life benefit value between $625 billion and $1.4 trillion, the research team, mainly from Indiana University in the US, said in a paper published online last year in Health Affairs journal. The savings would be at least 100 times the $13 billion that the US government spent on vaccine development and manufacturing.

The team, which had Christopher Whaley, a policy researcher at nongovernmental research organisation, Rand Corporation, also found that the early vaccination drive could avert 3 million Covid-19 cases as well. India-born Sumedha Gupta, an associate professor of economics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, was the first author of the study.

Till May 9, the States in the US experienced five fewer deaths from Covid-19 per 10,000 adult population. Depending on the progress achieved in vaccination roll-out and population density, the number of deaths averted varied between different States. In New York, for instance, vaccinations led to an estimated 11.7 per cent fewer Covid-19 deaths per 10,000 people, whereas the smallest reduction was observed in Hawaii where an estimated 1.1 per cent lives per 10,000 were saved.

The study brings into focus the success of the vaccination drive and calls for policies that would further expand vaccine administration in the US and elsewhere. The coronavirus pandemic has caused enormous suffering, causing more than 4 million deaths worldwide and more than 10 per cent of them in India where over 4.37 lakh people succumbed to the infection. have

The study clearly showed that the US has been able to reduce the number of deaths and severe infections since the vaccination programme commenced. The study spanned a period of December 21 last year to May 9 this year.

The researchers created models to estimate the number of Covid-19 deaths that would have prevailed in the absence of vaccinations. The difference between the actual number of deaths and those estimates provides a measure of the number of Covid-19 deaths averted by the vaccination campaign.

“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,” said Gupta in statement.

Published on August 28, 2021

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