Vaccines have saved 154 million lives over the past fifty years, according to WHO

Vaccines have saved the equivalent of six lives every minute, according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) published Wednesday April 24 by the scientific journal The Lancet

Vaccines have saved 154 million lives over the past fifty years, according to WHO

Vaccines have saved the equivalent of six lives every minute, according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) published Wednesday April 24 by the scientific journal The Lancet. The WHO emphasizes, in a press release, that this estimate is “cautious” because the study only concerns vaccination against fourteen diseases, including diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, whooping cough, tetanus and even fever. YELLOW.

“Vaccines are among the most powerful inventions in history, helping to prevent once-feared diseases,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the statement.

“Thanks to vaccination, more children have never been able to survive and develop beyond their fifth birthday than at any other time in history,” also commented the Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for childhood (UNICEF), Catherine Russell, in the same press release. WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI vaccine alliance and the Bill Foundation

A large majority of infants saved

Efforts which sometimes come up against very strong anti-vaccine sentiments fueled by conspiracy theories circulating on social networks. The study shows that the vast majority of lives saved by vaccines over the past fifty years, 101 million, have been those of infants. Thus, vaccination against the fourteen diseases has directly contributed to reducing child mortality by 40% worldwide and by more than 50% on the African continent, according to the WHO.

“Thanks to vaccines, smallpox has been eradicated, polio is on the verge of succumbing, and thanks to the recent development of vaccines against diseases like malaria and cervical cancer, we are pushing the frontiers of disease.” , underlined Mr. Tedros.

Of the vaccines included in the study, measles vaccination had the most significant impact on reducing child mortality, accounting for 60% of lives saved. According to the WHO, this vaccine “will probably remain in the future the one that contributes the most to preventing deaths”. Thanks to polio vaccination, more than 20 million people who would otherwise have been paralyzed can walk, the WHO also notes.

The UN agency calls for accelerating efforts to reach the 67 million children who did not receive one or more vaccines during the years of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which health services were closed or severely disrupted . The WHO is particularly concerned about measles because 33 million children have not received at least one of two doses of the vaccine in 2022.