Vaccines may have prevented 234,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US

An analysis of COVID-19 death data in the US showed that a quarter of overall deaths among adults could have been prevented with vaccines.

 The COVID-19 vaccine (illustrative). (photo credit: PIXABAY)
The COVID-19 vaccine (illustrative).
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Approximately 234,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States could have been prevented since June with vaccines, according to a data analysis by Health System Tracker.

Vaccines became available for free to all adults in the US in May of last year, and Health System Tacker estimated that by June, they could have all been fully vaccinated.

The analysis took all adult COVID deaths from June 2021 to March 2022. Children's deaths were excluded because vaccines were made available to them later than adults and not for all children at once.

Next, the analysts excluded deaths of adults who had been vaccinated and were left with 270,000 unvaccinated adults who died of COVID between June and March.

The analysts assumed that even if all 270,000 had been vaccinated, some of them would have still died because of pre-existing health issues and the fact that the vaccine is not 100% effective. 

 : A general view of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta (credit: REUTERS/TAMI CHAPPELL/FILE PHOTO) : A general view of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta (credit: REUTERS/TAMI CHAPPELL/FILE PHOTO)

In order to factor this in, the analysts used CDC studies of vaccine effectiveness. Since the effectiveness has varied over time, the analysts split the period they were looking at into June to December and January to March. The former was assigned 91% vaccine effectiveness, and the latter was assigned 79% effectiveness.

This left the analysts with 234,000 deaths that could have probably been avoided with vaccines. This number represents a quarter of all COVID-related deaths in the US since the pandemic began and 60% of deaths since June.

It is important to note that this was an analysis of data as opposed to a scientific study and therefore, represents an estimate rather than accurate numbers. However, it is clear that a large percentage of deaths could have been avoided if people had been vaccinated.