An estimated 3.2 million excess deaths and 18.5 million hospitalizations have been prevented due to vaccines, according to The Commonwealth Fund.
The U.S. gave the first vaccine two years ago, and roughly 655 million vaccines doses have been administered since. About 80% of the population has received at least one dose, preventing a wave of deaths and serious illness.
The Commonwealth Fund used a computer model of disease transmission to estimate hospitalizations and deaths averted through the end of November 2022. The model used age-stratified demographics, risk factors and immunological dynamics of infection and vaccination. The pandemic trajectory was then compared to “a counterfactual scenario without a vaccination program” to determine the impact of vaccines on deaths and hospitalizations.
In addition to millions of fewer deaths and hospitalizations, vaccines also lead to nearly 120 million fewer COVID-19 infections.
Beyond the impact on the population, the vaccine program in the United States also has a fiscal impact, saving the nation $1.5 trillion in medical costs that would have been otherwise incurred.
The Commonwealth Fund findings highlight the substantial impact of the U.S. vaccination program on reducing infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Curbing hospitalization rates by reducing both COVID-19 incidence and symptom severity is particularly important amidst the strain on the health care system caused by unusually high levels of flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). COVID-19 vaccination has preserved hospital resources for individuals who would otherwise have not received timely care.
The estimated infections, hospitalizations, and deaths averted by vaccination are particularly striking when compared to the actual values observed during this time period, according to the Commonwealth Fund. Statistical evidence gathered since December 12, 2020 shows that 82 million infections, 4.8 million hospitalizations, and 798,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S.