Covid-19 vaccines prevented more than 42 lakh potential deaths in India in 2021, according to a study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal.
The findings are based on estimates of “excess” mortalities in the country during the pandemic, the study stated.
Globally, the mathematical modelling study found covid vaccines reduced the potential death toll during the pandemic by nearly 20 million, or more than half, in the year following their implementation.
In the first year of the vaccination programme, 19.8 million out of a potential 31.4 million covid deaths were prevented worldwide, according to estimates based on excess deaths from 185 countries and territories, the researchers said.
The study estimates a further 5,99,300 lives could have been saved if the World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 40% of the population in each country by the end of 2021 had been met.
The study estimated the number of deaths that were prevented between Dec. 8, 2020 , and Dec. 8, 2021, which reflects the first year in which the vaccines were distributed.
‘”For India, we estimate that 4,210,000 deaths were prevented by vaccination in this period. This is our central estimate, with the uncertainty in this estimate ranging between 3,665,000-4,370,000,” Oliver Watson, the lead of the study from Imperial College, London, told PTI in an email. “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.”
The India numbers are based on the estimates that 51,60,000 (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 pandemic, which we have sourced from The Economist and are similar to the estimates that the WHO have reported,” Watson said. “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.”
According to the estimates by The Economist, 2.3 million people died due to Covid-19 in India by the start of May 2021, as against the 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.