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Covid Vaccines Prevented 20 Million Deaths in First Year, Study Finds

  • More deaths could have been averted with equitable rollout
  • Vaccine deployment was an ‘extraordinary global health feat’
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in Peabody, Massachusetts.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in Peabody, Massachusetts.

Photographer: Vanessa Leroy/Bloomberg

Covid vaccines that were developed in record time saved an estimated 20 million lives in the first year of the rollout, more than half of them in wealthier countries, according to the first study of its kind to quantify the impact.

While more than 7 million deaths were likely averted in countries covered by Covax, the World Health Organization-backed distribution program, the research nonetheless highlights the devastation caused by uneven access. About one in five lives lost due to Covid in poorer countries could have been prevented if WHO targets had been reached, data published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal show.