Covid vaccines prevented nearly 20 million deaths in the first year after they were introduced, according to the first large modelling study on the topic released Friday.
The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, is based on data from 185 countries and territories collected from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021.
It is the first attempt to estimate the number of deaths prevented directly and indirectly as a result of Covid-19 vaccinations.
It found that 19.8 million deaths were prevented out of a potential 31.4 million deaths that would have occurred if no vaccines were available. It was a 63% reduction, the study found.
China was not included in the study because of its large population and strict containment measures, which would have skewed the results, it said.
The study found that high- and middle-income countries accounted for the largest number of deaths averted, 12.2 million out of 19.8 million, reflecting inequalities in access to vaccines worldwide.
Nearly 600,000 additional deaths could have been prevented if the World Health Organization's (WHO) goal of vaccinating 40% of each country's population by the end of 2021 had been met, it concluded.
Covid has officially killed more than 6.3 million people globally, according to the WHO. But the organisation said last month the real number could be as high as 15 million, when all direct and indirect causes are accounted for.