How many lives do COVID vaccines save? Evidence from Israel

Ronen Arbel, Candace Makeda Moore, Ruslan Sergienko, Joseph Pliskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Israel began a mass vaccination program with the rapid rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 BNT162b2 vaccine for adults. At the same time, government stringency measures in terms of closing public life were decreased. Our objective was to estimate the total number of Covid-19 deaths avoided due to the massive vaccination campaign in the elderly Israeli population. Methods: We examined the effect of vaccination on mortality when at least 90% of the population over age 70 were vaccinated for less than seven months. Projected deaths as expected from vaccine efficacy and actual mortality data were compared for the study population to account for potential confounding effects of government stringency. The average Oxford Stringency Index was calculated in the study period and the preceding period of the pandemic. Potential confounding effects of an age shift in the distribution of deaths were examined by analyzing the distributions before and after the study period. Results: Confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the population over 70 after mass vaccination were recorded as 370, versus 5,120 estimated without vaccinations. Conclusions: Vaccines against COVID-19 saved more lives than expected by simply applying individual vaccine efficacy to the vaccinated population in Israel, despite a loosening of government stringency. Our findings support the worldwide efforts of governments to improve vaccination rates, especially in the elderly population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-261
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Covid 19
  • Mortality
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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