Vaccination against covid-19 in Brazil saved 63,000 elderly people in 2021

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Vaccination against covid-19 in Brazil saved the lives of up to 63,000 elderly people from January to August 2021, indicates a study by researchers at the Covid-19 BR Observatory. In addition, up to 178,000 hospitalizations of people over the age of 60 were prevented with vaccines.

The analysis also estimates that another 47,000 lives could have been saved and 104,000 hospitalizations avoided if immunization had taken place in a more rapid scenario. The research was published today (21) in an article in the journal The Lancet Regional Health Americas🇧🇷

′′ If we had vaccinated in January at the same rate as we vaccinated in March, we could have avoided the loss of another 47 thousand lives in that same period. Just because there is a faster vaccination rate than what happened in real life”, said researcher Leonardo Souto Ferreira, first author of the article and researcher at the Institute of Theoretical Physics (IFT) at the São Paulo State University (Unesp).

The work also had the participation of scientists from Fiocruz, the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), the Federal University of ABC (Ufabc) and the University of São Paulo (USP).

The study is based on a statistical analysis with the intention of measuring the role of mass vaccination and the effectiveness of this health strategy.

“We assumed, in our model, that the behavior of the curve of hospitalizations and deaths in a younger age group, which is not receiving the vaccine, is the same as in the older age group”, added Ferreira.


In a scenario, therefore, in which “some age group starts to decline before the other, we attribute this difference to the vaccination of the elderly”. The difference between the two age groups is what vaccination prevented, both deaths and hospitalizations, he added.

The survey also estimated the savings resulting from the reduction in hospitalizations, considering that each hospitalized person had, during the pandemic, an average cost of 12 thousand dollars in Brazil. By avoiding 158,000 to 178,000 hospitalizations, there was a saving of 1.9 billion to 2.1 billion dollars for the health system. In the article, scientists compare that Brazil invested 2.2 billion dollars in immunizations in the period analyzed from January to August 2021.

In the estimated scenario in which vaccination occurred at a faster pace, the four-week period and another eight-week period after the initial date of immunization, on January 18, were considered as references. In the first period, it is considered that vaccination occurred at a moderate pace and, in the second, at high acceleration.

In Brazil, around 250,000 doses [de vacina] per day were applied between February and March. Between April and May, 500,000 daily doses. And the rhythm that guarantees one million doses/day was achieved in June 2021.

“We know that Brazil could easily vaccinate one million people, based both on the campaign against H1N1 and on the covid-19 campaign itself, which, between June and July, was vaccinating one million people”, analyzed Ferreira.

He added that a conservative comparison indicates that 47,000 lives could have been saved. “Just the difference of having vaccinated 100,000 people to vaccinate 300,000 people at that moment, per day, which is not even half the capacity of the Unified Health System, would have already saved another 50,000 lives just in the age group over 60” , I told Brazil Agency🇧🇷

Gamma Variant

The researchers recall, for example, that in January 2021, the spread of the Gamma variant was recorded, which caused a health crisis in Manaus (AM). Although it was not possible to prevent the emergence of the new strain, which appeared in November, a faster vaccination could have considerably reduced the peak of hospitalizations and deaths, especially among the elderly and in states where the variant took longer to arrive.

They also point out that, in the middle of last year, vaccination was essential to prevent a new severe wave of serious cases with another variant – Delta.

Data from the Ministry of Health indicate that 35 million cases of covid-19 have been registered in the country since the beginning of the pandemic. During this period, 688,907 deaths were confirmed.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News

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