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Study: Over 2 years, COVID-19 vaccines prevented 3 million U.S. deaths

This week marks two years since the U.S. began distributing and administering COVID vaccines.

A new study estimates how much worse the pandemic might have been without them.

Computer-modeling-based research by the Commonwealth Fund suggests that vaccines have reduced COVID's potential death toll by more than 3 million, reduced medical costs by $1 trillion and kept kids in school longer.

Without vaccines, the country would have seen 1.5 times more infections and 3.8 times more hospitalizations since December 2020, increasing the odds of long COVID and of reinfections, which have higher risk of death.

Even in evasive variants like omicron, vaccines blunted disease severity, lessening the burden on hospitals even as high rates of flu and RSV now strain the healthcare system.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.