Almost twenty million lives saved in just one year: from December 2020 to the same month last year. Vaccines have given a decisive push to the pandemic, reducing severe cases of Covid-19 in the first degree. The evidence, already brought to light by several studies conducted on a national basis, is confirmed in a work published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. A study estimated the impact of the prophylaxis campaign over a year in 185 countries. “We are talking about millions of lives saved: at all latitudes and regardless of the socio-economic conditions of each individual”, he says Oliver Watson, epidemiologist at Imperial College London’s Infectious Disease Analysis Center and first author of the paper. “The fact remains that we could have done more if the goal of vaccinating at least 40 percent of the target population in all countries had been achieved”.
With more robust numbers, the study consolidates the impact of vaccines in reducing mortality caused by Covid-19. The modeling approach served to overcome the inevitable difficulties in verifying such a hypothesis: dictated by the variability in access to the vaccination campaign, the uneven circulation of the different variants and the impossibility of measuring in real life what the number of deaths would have been. in the absence of vaccines. The researchers started from the reliable data available: those of deaths caused in individual states by the disease starting from 8 December 2020 (first day of administration of the vaccine outside of clinical trials) for one year.
Where this information was not available, the increase in mortality rate was used: probably due to the pandemic. This scenario was compared with a hypothetical one referable to the same countries in the absence of vaccines. Thus it was possible to define what in all likelihood was the number of lives saved by the vaccines used against Covid-19. That is: just under 20 million, equal to 63 percent of the expected deaths if there was no opportunity for prophylaxis.
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The action of the vaccines was articulated. To the deaths prevented directly, avoiding the aggravation of the Sars-CoV-2 infection, we must add those avoided thanks to the reduced circulation of the virus (and therefore infections) and the reduction of the impact of the pandemic on hospitals (which has allowed for better care of hospitalized patients). However, the benefit was not homogeneous in all countries. The most significant impact was recorded in high-income countries, thanks to an earlier and more widespread distribution of vaccines.
Of the 19.8 million prevented deaths, in fact, 12.2 concern people infected in European or American states. Hence the experts’ estimate: “If the goal promoted by the World Health Organization had been achieved, which would have wanted to see 40 percent of the population of each country vaccinated by the end of 2021, almost 600 thousand more could have been avoided. deaths “: mainly located in Africa and Eastern European nations.
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This, on the other hand, was the main intent. Even before producing – possibly – the sterilizing immunity that also allows to avoid contagions. “The vaccination campaign has helped prevent the increase in the number of hospitalizations and prevented the increased pressure on the health system that we have seen in previous waves,” he says. Dario Gregoriprofessor of medical statistics at the University of Padua and coordinator of another study just published in the journal “Jama Network Open”, which measured the impact that vaccination had on hospitalizations in one of the first Italian regions affected by the pandemic .
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“Our result – he adds Paolo Navalesi, director of the complex operating unit of anesthesia and resuscitation of the Paduan polyclinic – confirms the vaccination is protective against severe disease caused by Sars-CoV-2 infection and stresses the importance of undergoing the complete vaccination course and subsequent booster doses in the times and methods recommended by the international scientific community. Only in this way can serious complications such as to require intensive care be prevented, especially in the elderly “.
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