Reviews | Coronavirus vaccines were a triumph but achieved too little

Stop and think about the success of coronavirus vaccines. While most vaccines take five to ten years to develop and manufacture, the remarkable mRNA injections appeared in less than a year. They were safe, effective, free, and dramatically reduced serious illness and death, one of the great biomedical achievements of all time. Yet their results could have been even better.

A study by Oliver J. Watson and colleagues from the MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, published June 23 in The Lancet, highlights the magnitude of the feat. Using mathematical modeling to look at 185 countries and territories, scientists found that coronavirus vaccines saved 19.8 million lives in the first year of vaccination, starting December 8, 2020. This is based on a broad definition of pandemic suffering, the estimated excess mortality toll, and amounts to averting an incredible 63 percent of all deaths – in other words, reducing the loss by more than half. Under a narrower definition of pandemic suffering – officially reported deaths – coronavirus vaccines prevented 14.4 million deaths, or 79%. A separate study published earlier, consistent with the latest, showed that vaccines averted about 1.1 million deaths in the United States in the first year.

It could have been better. If the World Health Organization’s global goal of 40% vaccination coverage of all populations by the end of 2021 had been met, it would have averted nearly 600,000 additional deaths, according to the study, the majority in the poorest countries. In the United States, the success of the vaccine was tempered by the refusal of millions to accept the injections. Overall, 71% of eligible The American population is fully vaccinated with two injections; but only 49% of eligible people received a first booster dose. Even less, 26% of the eligible population have a second booster. In all age groups, total absorption of these remarkable life-saving vaccines fell far short of the eligible number, and many of those who refused paid a high price. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in April, unvaccinated people over 50 were 42 times more likely to die of covid-19 than those who had received all the vaccines, including two boosters. The tragedy is that so much hesitation has been caused by the deliberate spread of misinformation by anti-vaccine activists.

In a deeply disturbing move, anti-vaccine activists from Ohio are staging a ballot initiative on a proposal that would effectively block vaccine mandates. According to an independent, non-profit news organization, the Ohio Capital Journal, the provision states: “An individual’s right to refuse any medical procedure, treatment, injection, vaccine, prophylactic, pharmaceutical or medical device is absolute. If approved by referendum, it would be enshrined in the state constitution, making Ohio the only state with such a provision – although it would violate the US Constitution. may be involved.

Covid and other diseases are not just one person’s problem. They can transmit and spread. An unvaccinated person puts others at risk – and quite unnecessarily, with highly effective and safe vaccines at hand.

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