UNC Research: Vaccines Saved 20M Lives

Oct 3, 2017

By 2020, immunization efforts that began in 2001 using 10 vaccines in 73 low- or middle-income countries will have prevented almost 20 million child deaths and saved $350 billion in the cost of treating illnesses.
Credit GAVI Vaccine Alliance / UNC

Researchers at the UNC-Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy say vaccines have saved 20 million lives and $350 billion in the world's poorest countries since 2001.

Sachi Ozawa was the lead researcher on the study. She said that vaccines are one of the most cost-effective interventions in public health.

"And these benefits are coming from the fact that people actually incur costs living through preventable diseases, and the vaccines are actually preventing them," she said.

The research team calculated the savings from averted health care costs. They also counted savings from potential lost productivity of people who might have become disabled had they not been vaccinated.

"Immunizations are an excellent investment, but to make these economic returns a reality, people must continue to demand vaccines and country governments and donors must honor the commitments to mobilize resources to support and strengthen these immunization programs," she said.

Ozawa says the research shows it would be cost effective to close funding gaps to support vaccinations in the poorest countries.