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At least 470,000 people aged 60 and over have been directly saved by the vaccines since their deployment began, data from 33 countries suggests.

The latest study from the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, or ECDC, indicates that the estimate does not include the lives saved by vaccinating those under 60, nor lives saved from the indirect effect of vaccination because of reduced transmission.

The figures were calculated by estimating the number of deaths that would have occurred without the vaccines using the actual number of deaths reported each week.

The figure of nearly half a million people indicates the difference between those estimates and the number of reported deaths from COVID-19 between December 2020 and November.

Scientists behind the study estimated that vaccination against COVID-19 saved 469,186 lives in this age group across 33 countries during the study period.

More importantly, the data suggests that the vaccination reduced the expected number of deaths by about half.

In 30 countries for which data are also available for smaller age groups, the largest number of lives saved were those aged 80 and over, with an estimated total of 261,421 lives.

Although COVID-19 has proven to be devastating in terms of timing, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Henri Kluge, said that “we can now categorically state that without COVID-19 vaccines as a tool for contain this pandemic, many more people would have died. “

“In some countries the death toll would have been double what it is now without the vaccines. It is therefore extremely important that all Member States in the European Region achieve high coverage for people from at-risk groups as soon as possible. he stated.

“Countries with lower immunization rates must continue to prioritize those most at risk and protect vulnerable groups as quickly as possible.”

“But vaccines need to be accompanied by a series of preventative measures to keep transmission levels low and keep society open,” Kluge explained.

The 33 European countries included in the research have reported more than 1.5 million confirmed deaths linked to COVID-19. 90.2% of the deaths were in people aged 60 and over.

ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said that in the fight against COVID, the impetus should now be to improve low vaccination rates in some countries on the continent.

“[This is] are currently reflected in overburdened health systems and high death rates, ”she said.

“There are still too many people at risk of serious infection with COVID-19 that we need to protect as soon as possible. Even in countries that have achieved good overall immunization coverage, there are still subpopulations and age groups in which coverage remains lower than desired. “

“Vaccination of older groups must remain an urgent priority to save the most lives in the weeks and months to come,” she concluded.

But vaccination is part of the toolbox of essential measures needed to curb the pandemic, and it alone will not end the health crisis.

“We know the virus thrives in closed, overcrowded and confined spaces, and that’s why we also need to follow known measures to reduce transmission, especially now that the colder weather is pushing us to congregate indoors. “said Kluge of the WHO.

“Wear a mask in crowded, closed and confined spaces, cover coughs and sneezes, keep a physical distance from other people and wash your hands regularly. Ventilation is also important, so if it is safe to do so, open a window or door to let in fresh air. “

“By making these actions part of our daily routine, we can all help stop the infection and the spread of the virus. In the same way that we always put on a seat belt while driving, we should remember to wash our hands, wear a mask, or stay away from other people, to protect yourself from infection, ”Kluge concluded.

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euronews Gt

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