Three highly effective COVID-19 vaccines are available in the U.S. These vaccines have been shown to slow the spread of the virus and reduce COVID-19 deaths. About half of the population has been fully vaccinated as of August 2021.
A team led by Drs. Sumedha Gupta of Indiana University and Christopher Whaley of the RAND corporation analyzed how the vaccine rollout affected COVID-19 deaths. Their study is one of the first to assess the impact of state-level vaccination campaigns.
To determine the speed of vaccination in each state, researchers used data from government websites and official statements. The study analyzed the period from December 21, 2020, to May 9, 2021. They compared the amount of time each state took to reach a series of milestones—starting with five vaccine doses per 100 adults, up to 120 doses per 100 adults. They also calculated the number of vaccine doses per 100 adults at the end of each week.
Based on the model, COVID-19 vaccines prevented more than 139,000 deaths during the first five months they were available. About 570,000 COVID-19 deaths had occurred in the U.S. by May 9; the model projected about 709,000 deaths would have occurred without the vaccines. The researchers estimated that the economic value of preventing these deaths was between $625 billion and $1.4 trillion.