Quarter of US COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented by vaccination: analysis

A resident at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale receives a COVID-19 booster shot
Associated Press/Seth Wenig
Edward Williams, 62, a resident at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, receives a COVID-19 booster shot in New York on Sept. 27, 2021. State health officials said Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, that New York will not enforce its mandate requiring health care workers to get COVID-19 boosters in light of concerns about staffing shortages.

A new analysis finds that approximately 234,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 since June 2021 could have been prevented if people had been vaccinated.  

The analysis from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation underscores the importance of vaccination, and indicates a significant portion of the heavy toll from the virus could have been prevented.  

The 234,000 preventable deaths translates to about one quarter of the nearly 1 million U.S. deaths from the virus since the pandemic began, and 60 percent of the deaths since June 2021, when vaccines became widely available.  

“Since vaccines became widely available last summer, a total of 389,000 adults in the United States have died of COVID-19, and 6 in 10 of those deaths – about 234,000 deaths – could have been prevented by timely vaccinations,” the analysis states. “This analysis underscores the importance of continued efforts to increase the number of people vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.” 

The analysis does not include the effect of booster shots, but notes that booster shots can help prevent even more deaths. Getting a booster is particularly important in the face of the omicron variant, which has shown an increased ability to evade the vaccines, though there is still important protection against severe disease and death.  

The analysis made its calculations using the share of COVID-19 deaths that were among unvaccinated people, which ranged from 85 percent in June 2021 to 58 percent in January 2022.  

As of February 2022, 22 percent of the adult population was unvaccinated, but made up a much higher percentage of COVID-19 deaths, at 60 percent.  

Rates of booster dose uptake are still lagging, with about half of eligible adults still not having received a booster, as well as 33 percent of people 65 and older, for whom the booster is particularly important.  

Tags COVID-19 deaths COVID-19 vaccines

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