COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the early days of the rollout prevented millions of cases and hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths, a new study suggests.
Researchers ran simulations and found that the rollout helped avert nearly three million new infections of the virus and about 140,000 fatalities by the second week of May.
What’s more, on average, every state and the District of Columbia experienced five fewer deaths from the disease per 10,000 adults.
The team at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit global policy thinktank, says this progress could be reversed as the vaccination campaign allows in the U.S. and the Indian ‘Delta’ variant continues to sweep across the country, causing surges in pockets of the U.S. with both high and low vaccination rates.
Researchers ran simulations on how many COVID-19 deaths were prevented due to early vaccination efforts. Pictured: A medical worker at South Shore University Hospital administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Susan Maxwell-Trumble in Bay Shore, New York, March 2021
They found nearly three million new infections of the virus and about 140,000 fatalities were avoided by the second week of May
‘This study brings into focus the dramatic success of the early months of the nation’s coronavirus vaccine rollout,’ said senior author Christopher Whaley, a policy researcher at RAND.
‘The findings provide support for policies that further expand vaccine administration to enable a larger proportion of the nation’s population to benefit.’
It’s clear that COVID-19 vaccines have helped drive down deaths.
The U.S. is currently recording about 700 virus-related deaths per day, about one-third fewer the 950 fatalities seen in November 2020, the last time there was a surge.
But the new report is among the first to look at the impact on a state-by-state level.
For the study, journal Health Affairs, researchers looked at data on COVID-19 deaths from The New York Times and on vaccine doses administered from Bloomberg’s tracker between December 21, 2020 and May 9, 2021.
New York saw the biggest drop with 11.7 fewer COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 adult residents by the second week of May while every state experienced, on average five fewer deaths from the disease per 10,000 adults (above)
The team than created models to approximate the number of deaths that would occurred if vaccines hadn’t been introduced.
After, adjusting for population size, they found that New York saw the biggest drop with 11.7 fewer COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 adult residents by the second week of May.
Meanwhile, Hawaii saw the smallest reduction with 1.1 fewer COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 adults.
Overall, 139,393 deaths were avoided across the country.
‘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 first author Dr Sumedha Gupta, an economist at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.
This is not the first study to look at the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
A study from Yale School of Public Health found that if no vaccines had been distributed through summer 2021, there would have been up to 279,000 more COVID-19-related deaths and 1.25 million hospitalizations from the virus.
If only half as many doses had been administered, or about 166 million doses, by July 1, there would have been about 121,000 additional deaths and more than 457,000 additional hospitalizations.
Additionally, the daily rate of deaths would have exceeded the observed rate of deaths, reaching a little bit higher than 4,000 per day.