- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A new study estimates that COVID-19 vaccinations averted 58% of U.S. deaths that could have occurred in a hypothetical scenario in which no inoculations existed.

Published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, the modeling study concludes that COVID-19 vaccinations prevented 27 million infections, 1.6 million hospitalizations and 235,000 deaths among U.S. adults from December 2020 to September 2021.

However, the study cautions that it relied on “incomplete national data” from multiple health records due to the lack of a national database and the “limitations of current methods” for measuring vaccine effectiveness.

“We are unlikely to ever know the exact number of people saved by the nationwide vaccination campaign, but we do know that vaccination is our most powerful tool for preventing severe disease and death,” the study states.

Infectious disease specialists agreed.

“The findings are not surprising. The COVID-19 vaccines are unequivocally the best way to prevent the severe consequences of infection, including death,” said Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“We know the vaccines worked in clinical trials. These numbers are on par with what we expected, if not better,” added Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The study concludes that “more must be done to reach” the estimated 1-in-3 Americans who remain unvaccinated.

“The marriage of politics and the pandemic has been a public health disaster that will have consequences for population health that reach far beyond the direct protection of vaccinated individuals,” the study notes.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University, said he estimates in a forthcoming book that “as many as 200,000 Americans lost their lives unnecessarily because they refused COVID vaccinations in 2021.”

“I have no reason to question the numbers [of the study], which seem quite reasonable and a reminder about the importance of vaccines. But equally important is the needless loss of life among individuals who refused COVID vaccinations even after they became widely available,” Dr. Hotez said.

He attributed vaccine hesitancy to “anti-science.”

Three public health researchers based the modeling study on hospitalization data from COVID-NET, a network of more than 250 acute care hospitals in 99 counties in 14 states.

They noted that this sampling, which covered hospitalizations within 14 days of a positive COVID-19 test result, was not representative of the entire U.S. population. That was due in part to differences in inpatient screening methods among different hospitals and states.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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