From Brown School of Public Health and Microsoft AI for Health
West Virginia, Wyoming, Tennessee, Kentucky and Oklahoma lead the list of states where the most lives could have been saved by vaccines.
D.C., Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, Vermont and Hawaii show the lowest numbers of vaccine-preventable deaths.
PROVIDENCE, May 13, 2022 – A new analysis by researchers at Brown School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Microsoft AI for Health shows that vaccines could have prevented at least 318,000 Covid-19 deaths between January 2021 and April 2022. This means that at least every second person who died from Covid-19 since vaccines became available might have been saved by getting the shot.
A new dashboard provides critical insights for federal and state COVID-19 response teams.
“At a time when many in the U.S. have given up on vaccinations, these numbers are a stark reminder of the effectiveness of vaccines in fighting this pandemic”, said Stefanie Friedhoff, associate professor of the practice in Health Services, Policy and Practice at the Brown University School of Public Health, and a co-author of the analysis. “We must continue to invest in getting more Americans vaccinated and boosted to save more lives.”
“This compelling data illustrates the trajectory of 50 states with 50 different fates during the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the important role of vaccines in protecting lives in each state”, said Thomas Tsai, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Having access to data enables us to answer key questions that can help policymakers and the general public make the best decisions around public health,” says Juan Lavista Ferres, chief data scientist and lab director, Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab. “Microsoft’s U.S. Vaccine Preventable Deaths Analysis, in collaboration with Brown University School of Public Health, is an example of how data can be leveraged to provide comprehensive perspectives to ensure proper scenario planning ahead of future pandemics.”
The dashboard is based on data for adults 18 years and older, from January 1, 2021 through April 30, 2022. Going forward, data will be updated monthly.
“This dashboard has the opportunity to serve as a resource for states to build trust with their residents and close the gap in vaccinations which can result in fewer preventable deaths,” said Dr. Tsai. “These alternate scenarios of vaccination trajectories in the past year should motivate the realities of the present—by ensuring access to vaccinations and boosters, we have the opportunity to prevent further deaths.”
“In a world with dramatically increased capacities to develop, manufacture and distribute vaccines, pandemic resilience will increasingly depend on the ability of governments, experts, institutions and community leaders to generate vaccine demand,” said professor Friedhoff, who works with community organizations on increasing access to and trust in vaccines as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Equity-First Vaccination Initiative. “A key step to increase uptake of vaccines is to avoid blaming people and instead listen, build relationships, combat misinformation, and empower people to find their own way to shots that can protect their health.”
Regardless of political affiliation or race, a key feature of Americans who remain unvaccinated or undervaccinated is that they have lost trust, Friedhoff said. “We find concerns about Covid-19 vaccines among people of all races and ethnicities, faith groups, education and income levels, political leanings and affinity groups — and while their concerns are different, one thing they all have in common is that they have lost trust in government and public health authorities. Unvaccinated Americans often no longer have any trusted messengers left. So what we need to do is start rebuilding an infrastructure of trust. That requires investment in people and programs, adjustments in policies and regulations, and a commitment to increasing health equity and meeting the information needs of all Americans.”
“This vaccine dashboard plays a key role in informing Americans by showing not just where we are in the pandemic, but more importantly, where we could – and should – be with a renewed focus on exiting this pandemic through vaccinations,” said Dr. Tsai.