89,515. They are the lives of people over 60 that COVID-19 vaccines have saved in Spain since they began to be distributed in December of last year. This is confirmed by a study by the WHO office in Europe and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the EU (ECDC), published in Eurosurveillance, which estimates that 470,000 lives have been saved among Europeans over 60 years of age since that started vaccination less than a year ago.
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The figure does not include the lives saved by the vaccination of people under 60 years of age or those saved by the indirect effect of vaccination due to a reduction in transmission.
Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, says: “COVID-19 has claimed a devastating number of deaths in Europe, but we can say categorically that, without vaccines, many people would have died. Which shows this research is that vaccines are doing what they promised. That is, saving lives and offering very high protection against serious illness and death. In some countries, the death toll would have been double what it is now without vaccines Therefore, it is vitally important that all countries achieve high coverage for people in risk groups as soon as possible. ”
Since December 2019, there have been more than 1.5 million confirmed deaths from coronavirus in the countries of the WHO European region, with 90.2% in people aged 60 years and over.
“The rapid development and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines has provided much-needed protection against serious illness and death for millions of vulnerable people, but the speed and scope of these vaccines in European countries is not equitable.” .
The research authors calculated the number of deaths among adults aged 60 and over in the 33 European countries that would have occurred without any vaccine using the actual death counts reported weekly.
They then calculated the number of lives saved by vaccination against COVID-19 as the difference between these estimates and the reported number of deaths from December 2020 to November 2021 for people age 60 and older.
Thus, the calculations are that vaccination against COVID-19 has saved 469,186 lives in this age group in the 33 countries during the study period, which has reduced the expected number of deaths to approximately half.
In 30 countries with data also available on smaller age groups, the highest number of lives saved was among people aged 80 and over (261,421 lives).
The application of the full schedule of COVID-19 vaccines in people 60 years and older varies between 20% and 100% among the 33 countries studied, which estimated that the largest number of lives saved was in countries where the application of the vaccine was early and the acceptance in the target group was also high.
The 33 countries analyzed are: Iceland, Israel Norway, Malta, Spain, Finland, Ireland, England, Cyprus, Portugal, Greece, France, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden, Hungary, Lithuania, Switzerland, Estonia, North Macedonia , Montenegro, Slovenia, Poland, Czechia, Croatia, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, Moldova, Ukraine and Scotland.
Andrea Ammon, ECDC Director, explained: “The consequences of low vaccination rates in some countries translate into overburdened healthcare systems and high mortality rates. We urge Member States to continue to focus on closing the gaps in immunization. immunization, especially among the most vulnerable and those most at risk of serious diseases. ”
“There are still too many people at risk of severe COVID-19 infection whom we must protect as soon as possible,” insists Ammon: “Even in countries that have achieved good vaccination coverage overall, there are still subpopulations and age groups in those whose coverage is still less than desired “.
“Vaccination is saving lives in all age groups,” says Kluge. “We know that the virus thrives in closed, crowded and confined spaces, and so we must also follow known measures to reduce transmission, especially now that the cold is causing us to gather indoors.”