More than 50% of COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented with better global vaccine distribution

Better access to vaccines could have prevented more than 50% of COVID-19 deaths in 20 lower income countries, according to a new paper in Nature Communications co-authored by Northeastern professor Alessandro Vespignani.

The estimation that “thousands and thousands” of lives were lost to vaccine inequity was a “punch in the stomach,” says Vespignani, director of Northeastern’s Network Science Institute and Sternberg Family Distinguished Professor.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“We don’t have a clear solution to the problem,” he says.

“We need to have a different system in place so that we have more vaccines and a more equitable distribution across the world,” Vespignani says. “There is a high price for this inequity.”

Vespignani and six other scientists, including Northeastern research associate professor of physics Matteo Chinazzi, used a computational epidemic model to estimate how many deaths would have been averted in the 20 countries, including Kenya, Afghanistan and Bolivia, if they had received the COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as the U.S. and other high income countries and in comparable quantities.

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