Covid-19 vaccines have saved 3 million lives in the US, study says, but the fight is not over
Vaccines against Covid-19 have kept more than 18.5 million people in the US out of hospitals and saved more than 3.2 million lives, new study says – and that estimate is most likely conservative, researchers say.
The US is approaching the second anniversary of the first vaccination against Covid-19, and although the coronavirus is still causing thousands of illnesses and deaths, vaccines have made living with the virus easier.
To determine exactly how well the vaccines helped, the researchers created a computer model of disease transmission that incorporated demographic data, human risk factors, infection dynamics and general information about vaccination. The research comes from the Commonwealth Fund and the Yale School of Public Health.
Their study, published on Tuesday, found that without a Covid-19 vaccine, the nation would have 1.5 times more infections, 3.8 times more hospitalizations and 4.1 times more deaths than between December 2020 and November 2022.
As it stands, Covid-19 has caused at least 99.2 million cases and more than 1.08 million deaths in the US. In the past week alone, 2,981 new deaths and 30,253 new hospital admissions were recorded, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study estimated that vaccinations were also a good financial bet, saving $1.15 trillion in medical costs.
If you factor in cases of long-term Covid, vaccines are likely prevented, the savings could be much greater, according to Alison Galvani, one of the study’s authors.
“Given the urgency of highly transmissible and immune-evading variants like Omicron, this is a remarkable success and a remarkable achievement,” said Galvani, founding director from the Yale Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis.
“Moving forward, accelerating the adoption of the new adapter will be fundamental to preventing future hospitalizations and deaths.”
Nearly 658 million Covid-19 vaccines have been given in the United States. However, the uptake of the new enhancers – which target the original strain of the virus as well as the Omicron BA.4/5 subvariants – has been reduced slow since they are authorized this fall. Only about 14% of the eligible population has received it, and 1 in 5 people in the US are still completely unvaccinated, According to the CDC.
The Biden administration encourages more Americans to step up, especially with upcoming holiday gatherings.
“Don’t wait. If you wait, you’re putting yourself at risk,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday at the AARP meeting. “We are entering the colder months of late fall and early winter. We will all gather with our families and friends for the holidays. If you’re up to date, great. If you haven’t, get vaccinated now.”
The number of Covid-19 cases is increasing, as are deaths and hospitalizations, according to the data CDC.
About 14% of the US population lives in an area that meets the CDC’s criteria for a “high” community level of Covid-19, including New York City, Los Angeles County and Maricopa County, Arizona – a sharp increase from less than 5% in the past week, but far below the level of previous jumps. And at this level, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors.
“We’re all sick of the disease,” AARP Executive Director Jo Ann Jenkins said Friday. “Each of us has the power to significantly reduce the risk of disease.”
As the numbers grow, experts suggest that masks may be appropriate in some circumstances.
The CDC recommends masking for everyone on public transportation. He also suggests wearing one in other public settings in communities where there is a high level of transmission. People who are at high risk of severe disease should wear masks even in areas with only an intermediate level of community.
Other basic prevention measures still apply: keep your hands clean and stay home if you are sick.