Vaccinations could have prevented quarter-million COVID deaths in U.S.

A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that nearly a quarter-million COVID-19 deaths in the United States could have been prevented through vaccination.

“We find that approximately 234,000 deaths since June 2021 could have been prevented with primary series vaccination,” reads the report, published Thursday. “These vaccine-preventable deaths represent 60% of all adult COVID-19 deaths since June 2021, and a quarter (24%) of the nearly 1 million COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.”

The analysis is based on the fact that COVID-19 vaccines were available to nearly all U.S. adults by May 2021. It does not factor in the potential effects of boosters, although KFF said that if it did so, it would have likely found more preventable deaths. Children were excluded from the analysis.

In November 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the unvaccinated were 14 times more likely to die if they contracted the virus than those who had received the shots. However, vaccinations were downplayed or demonized by right-wing media, with a KFF study late last year finding that Americans who trusted conservative outlets were more likely to believe COVID misinformation. Conservative media has downplayed the virus and questioned methods recommended by public health experts in combating it, from masking to vaccines. Fox News hosts have elevated anti-vax voices while promoting drugs like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, the latter of which is prescribed as an antimalarial in humans but also as a dewormer in livestock. A large study published this month found that ivermectin did not reduce the risk of COVID hospitalizations.

Other data has shown that death rates were higher in counties won by Donald Trump in the 2020 election versus those won by Joe Biden. When Trump urged supporters at an August 2021 rally to get vaccinated, he was booed, and was again booed months later when he revealed he had received a booster shot.

A man receives a second booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

A man receives a second booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine in Waterford, Mich., earlier this month. (Emily Elconin/Reuters)

“In the spring of 2020, the areas recording the greatest numbers of deaths were much more likely to vote Democratic than Republican,” read an analysis from Pew Research published in March. “But by the third wave of the pandemic, which began in fall 2020, the pattern had reversed: Counties that voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden were suffering substantially more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic than those that voted for Biden over Trump.”

Yahoo News/YouGov polling published in July 2021 found that unvaccinated adults said the vaccine was more dangerous than getting the virus. At the time, 93% of unvaccinated U.S. adults — the equivalent of 76 million people — said they either would “never” get vaccinated (51%), would keep waiting “to see what happens to others before deciding” (20%) or were not sure (22%).

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 80 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 990,000 deaths due to complications from the virus — far more than have been reported in any other country.


How are vaccination rates affecting the latest COVID surge? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.

See the data in 3D. Explore the latest COVID-19 data in your browser of scan this QR code with your phone to launch the experience in augmented reality.

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