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The Aviva Stadium mass vaccination centre in Dublin. Alamy Stock Photo
averted deaths

Covid vaccines have saved 9,000 lives in Ireland among 60+ age group, study estimates

New research by the ECDC and the WHO says that nearly 500,000 people across Europe are alive thanks to Covid vaccines.

VACCINATIONS AGAINST COVID-19 have saved over 9,000 lives in Ireland among people aged 60 and older, research from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated.

The study authors estimated the number of deaths among adults aged 60 years and older in the 33 countries in the European Region that would have happened without any vaccines using the actual weekly reported death counts.

They then calculated the number of lives saved from Covid-19 jabs as the difference between these estimates and the reported number of deaths from December 2020 to November 2021 for those aged 60 years and over.

The model found that 470,000 lives have been saved in the age group since the start of the vaccine roll-out in the WHO’s European Region.

This means vaccines reduced the expected number of deaths by approximately half, according to the study.

The estimate does not include lives saved among people aged under 60 or lives saved from the indirect effect of reduced transmission.

The team of scientists estimated that 9,074 deaths have been averted in Ireland in the over-60 age cohort in less than one year.

A total of 3,156 people died in Ireland in this age group during the period studied. The research estimates that 74% of expected deaths were averted by vaccines.

Therefore, the scientists say 12,230 people aged over-60 would have died if Covid shots had not been created. 

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry cited the research at today’s weekly HSE briefing, saying it’s proof that “immunity wins.”

“Yes, a booster campaign is necessary. That doesn’t mean it didn’t work. That does not mean it didn’t save lives. That doesn’t mean it didn’t prevent healthcare systems from becoming overwhelmed,” Dr Henry said.

The vaccine programme to date has been extremely effective at preventing serious hospitalisation and death.

Dr Henry added that the evidence from across Europe shows that higher vaccination rates are associated with lower numbers of people in hospital with Covid-19 and lower case numbers.

HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid added: “Emer Cooke, Executive Director of the EMA (European Medicines Agency) mentioned this week; she compared Ireland with a 93.5% take-up with two other EU countries that have a 50% take-up.

We had – in a 14-day period – 15 deaths per million and they had 260 deaths per million. So, 16 times more [caused] by less vaccine up-take.


At today’s briefing, the HSE said that people who are not vaccinated are three times more likely to be hospitalised with the coronavirus disease and 11 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care than those who are inoculated.

Screenshot 2021-12-02 at 15.23.30 HSE HSE

Reid said people who are unvaccinated are having a “really high, disproportionate” impact on the healthcare system.

“The virus obviously, we know by evidence, goes to the weakest point which are unvaccinated people,” the HSE boss explained.

48% of the hospital cases today are unvaccinated. 50% of people in ICU are unvaccinated. 79% of the people hospitalised between the ages of 19 to 45 are unvaccinated. So, it does go to the point of weakness.

Across Europe

More than over 1.5 million Covid deaths have been recorded in Europe since December 2019 with over 90% in those aged 60 years and over.

Discussing the research, Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe, said: “Covid-19 has exacted a devastating death toll in our Region, but we can now categorically say that without Covid-19 vaccines as a tool to contain this pandemic, many more people would have died.

“The Covid-19 vaccines are a marvel of modern science and what this research shows is that they’re doing what they promised, that is saving lives, offering very high protection against severe illness and death.

In some countries, the death toll would have been double what it is now without the vaccines.

The research appears in the Eurosurveillance medical journal, which is published by the ECDC.

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