Without the COVID-19 vaccine nearly twice as many people in the U.S. would have died of the disease this year.
The push to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 cut the number of people who died by the disease in half this year.
According to a study from The Commonwealth Fund, without the nation’s vaccination program there would have been an estimated 279,000 additional deaths due to COVID-19 on top of the about 304,000 deaths recorded since the effort began. The vaccines are also attributed with preventing up to 1.25 million additional hospitalizations.
If the vaccination effort had been slowed and the U.S. only reached half as many people an additional 121,000 patients would have died of COVID-19 and there would have been more than 450,000 additional hospitalizations, according to the study.
Most shockingly, without the U.S. vaccination effort the country likely would have seen a second wave, or spring surge, which would have seen nearly 4,500 deaths a day; greater than the 4,000 deaths a day seen at the peak in January. Many of these deaths would have been attributed to the more transmissible alpha variant of COVID-19, according to the study.
The alpha variant has since been supplanted by the even more contagious delta variant as the dominant variant in the U.S. as it accounts for 51.7 percent of infections, The New York Times reports.
“Our results demonstrate the extraordinary impact of rapidly vaccinating a large share of the population to prevent hospitalizations and deaths,” the study says. “The speed of vaccination seems to have prevented another potential wave of the U.S. pandemic in April that might otherwise have been triggered by the Alpha and Gamma variants. Additional new variants such as Delta will pose a special threat to unvaccinated populations in coming months.”