India prevented over 42 lakh Covid deaths in 2021 through vaccines: Lancet study
The findings of the study, which were based on estimates of "excess" mortalities in the country during the pandemic, was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
India prevented over 42 lakh potential deaths in 2021 due to COVID-19 vaccines, a new study has claimed. The findings of the study, which were based on estimates of "excess" mortalities in the country during the pandemic, were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
Using mathematical modelling, the study found that COVID-19 vaccines reduced the potential death toll by nearly 20 million (1 million = 10 lakhs) or more than half in the year following their implementation globally.
According to estimates based on excess deaths from 185 nations and areas, over 19.8 million deaths out of a potential 31.4 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented worldwide in the first year of the vaccination programme.
Had the World Health Organisation's target of vaccinating 40 per cent of the population in each country with two or more doses by the end of 2021 been met, another 5,99,300 lives could have been saved, the study noted.
For India, the researchers estimated that 42.1 lakh deaths were prevented by vaccination in this period.
'This is our central estimate, with the uncertainty in this estimate ranging between 36,65,000-43,70,000,' Oliver Watson, the lead author of the study, from the Imperial College London, said.
"What this modelling 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 news agency PTI.
The India numbers are based on the estimates that 51.6 lakh (48,24,000-56,29,000) deaths may have occurred in the country during the pandemic, a number which is 10 times the official figure of 5,24,941 deaths reported so far, he said.
"These estimates are based on the estimates of excess mortality in India during the COVID-19 pandemic, which we have sourced from The Economist and are similar to the estimates that the WHO have reported. Independently, our group has also investigated the COVID-19 death toll based on reports of excess mortality and seroprevalence surveys and arrived at similar estimates of almost 10 times the official count," Watson said.
According to the estimates by The Economist, 2.3 million people died in India from COVID-19 by the start of May 2021, as against official figures of around 2,00,000.
The WHO had last month estimated that there were 4.7 million Covid-linked deaths in India, a figure that was refuted by the government.
Of the almost 20 million deaths estimated to have been prevented in the first year after vaccines were introduced, almost 7.5 million deaths were prevented in countries covered by the COVID-19 Vaccine Access initiative (COVAX), the researchers said.
COVAX was set up because it was clear early on that global vaccine equity would be the only way out of the pandemic, they said. The initiative has facilitated access to affordable vaccines for lower-income countries to try to reduce inequalities, with an initial target of giving both vaccine doses to 20 per cent of the population in countries covered by the commitment by the end of 2021, the researchers said.
The authors also note several limitations to their findings. Notably, their model is based on a number of necessary assumptions, including the precise proportions of which vaccine types have been delivered, how they were delivered and the precise timing of when new virus variants arrived in each country.
They also assumed that the relationship between age and the proportion of COVID-19 deaths occurring among infected individuals is the same for each country.
With PTI inputs