MILAN (Reuters) – Vaccines against COVID-19 have roughly halved the death toll from the disease in Italy, preventing some 150,000 fatalities and 8 million cases last year, the National Health Institute (ISS) estimated on Wednesday.
The ISS study, which ran from the start of 2021 until the end of January this year, concluded the inoculation campaign also prevented more than 500,000 hospitalisations and over 55,000 admissions to intensive care.
Italy has registered 161,032 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world. The country has reported 15.4 million cases to date.
Some 79% of Italians have been fully vaccinated and 65% have had a third “booster” shot, figures from Our World in Data show.
The ISS study estimated that 72% of those whose lives were saved by the vaccines were aged 80 and over, 19% were in the 70-79 age group, 7% were aged 60-69 and 3% under 60.
The results were calculated using data on vaccine effectiveness and weekly vaccination numbers to assess their impact on the weekly tallies of cases, hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths.
The methodology was originally developed for flu vaccines but has already been applied in other countries for studies on SARS-CoV-2, the public body said in a statement.
(Reporting by Emilio Parodi, editing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Toby Chopra)