Unvaccinated people made up for 92% of Covid deaths in 2022: Govt data

Updated on Mar 04, 2022 07:08 AM IST
According to data compiled by HT, a total of 32,549 people have lost their lives to the disease in the first two months of 2022. This would mean that around 30,000 of these were unvaccinated.
At a vaccination centre in Nagaon earlier this month (PTI)
At a vaccination centre in Nagaon earlier this month (PTI)
By, New Delhi

Around 92% of all patients who lost their lives to Covid-19 across India in 2022 were unvaccinated, according to statistics compiled by the Union government that reinforce global trends observed regarding the impact of inoculation — being vaccinated significantly reduces the risk death from Covid-19.

In further encouraging findings, real-time data on vaccine effectiveness during the third wave has also shown much better results compared to the efficacy data of these vaccines gathered in laboratory-controlled settings, said Balram Bhargava, director general, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said during a central government health briefing on Thursday.

“High vaccination has caused reduced morbidity and mortality, and we have studies to show the same. The vaccine tracker shows mortality reducing from April 2021 to February 2022, but we have had unvaccinated individuals during 2022 were responsible for 92% of all the deaths (from Covid)… This is based on one of the largest databases in the world,” said Bhargava said citing data from national databases: India Vaccine Tracker.

According to data compiled by HT, a total of 32,549 people have lost their lives to the disease in the first two months of 2022. This would mean that around 30,000 of these would have been unvaccinated.

“Vaccine effectiveness in mortality prevention has also been measured: first dose is responsible for 98.9% vaccine effectiveness and if both the doses are given then it is 99.3% effectiveness,” added Bhargava.

The data have been collated from three government sources: CoWIN, ICMR testing, and the Covid India portal of the Union ministry of health that documented trends from 944,709,598 individuals to date, officials said. Of nearly 944 million individuals, about 150 million (153,937,796) are partially vaccinated, 739,846,222 are fully vaccinated, while about 51 million (50,925,580) remain unvaccinated.

Experts also acknowledge the role of vaccination in keeping hospitalisations low.

“Vaccination did play a role; look at other countries and see how we performed, it does prove vaccines have been effective,” said Gagandeep Kang, senior vaccine expert and faculty, Christian Medical College, Vellore.

Bhargava said that India’s Omicron surge was significantly better contained compared to what was observed even in developed countries. “The peak in India was much, much smaller in the third wave as compared to other countries including South Africa, the United States, United Kingdom etc... India’s [Covid] graph is smaller than other countries, of which many are developed,” added Bhargava.

He attributed it to quick vaccine development under the Make-in-India initiative, and its smooth deployment across the country under the national immunisation programme.

“It was the whole of government approach; whether it was the funding from the government, or whether it was pre-clinical studies, laboratory studies, clinical studies, epidemiological studies, or even rolling regulatory review which was done, advance purchase orders by the government, raw material import by the government, expedited batch testing and eventually release of the vaccine, it was all critical and timely support for that magic shield that we were able to develop,” said Bhargava.

Vaccine deployment was the second crucial part of the effort, he said, and how the ASHA and frontline workers, ANMs were made use of effectively on ground, and with the programmatic preparedness to understand standard operating guidelines, agile vaccination strategy and whole of government approach helping in India getting this huge vaccination programme underway.

“Whether this vaccine has been effective or not, we have collected data on that and how the vaccine impact has been measured by evidence guided vaccination; database derived monitoring; tracking vaccine effectiveness—India is the second country that has been tracking vaccine effectiveness for 6-7 months now and which is in public domain as national vaccine tracker,” he said.


    Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.

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