OVER 27,000 lives have been saved in Scotland since the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, a new study has predicted.

Findings from the World Health Organisation led paper supported by Public Health Scotland, estimate 27,656 deaths have been directly averted among those 60 and over. 

By using weekly numbers of observed deaths and vaccination coverage, the study published on Friday in Eurosurveillance estimates that nearly half a million lives have been saved across Europe from December 2020 to November 2021 - totalling 469,186. 

In Scotland, an estimated 86% of deaths have been averted and in Europe, that's 51%.

This estimate does not include lives saved by vaccinating people less than 60 years or lives saved from the indirect effect of vaccination because of a reduction in transmission.

Discussing the study, co-author Dr Jim McMenamin, Head of Health Protection Infection Services at Public Health Scotland, said: “This important study shows that thanks to high vaccine uptake among the people of Scotland, and early implementation, the COVID-19 vaccination programme is estimated to have saved more than 27 thousand lives in Scotland.

“Our thanks to everybody who has come forward to receive their vaccination to date. I am also grateful to colleagues up and down the country who have worked tirelessly to support the speedy rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines.”

Authors estimated the number of deaths among adults aged 60 years and older in the 33 countries in the European Region that would have happened without any vaccines using the actual weekly reported death counts.

They then calculated the number of lives saved due to COVID-19 vaccination as the difference between these estimates and the reported number of deaths from December 2020 to November 2021 for those aged 60 years and over.

Uptake of the complete dose series of COVID-19 vaccines in those aged 60 years and over now ranges from 20% to 100% among the 33 countries under study. 

The study estimated that the largest number of lives saved was in countries where COVID-19 vaccination rollout was early and uptake in the target group was also high. 

Adding his own reflections, Dr Nicholas Phin, Director of Public Health Science at Public Health Scotland, said: “We know that the COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective way to protect ourselves. This latest study shows just what an impact the COVID-19 vaccination programme has had in Scotland. 

“When it’s your time to receive a third or booster dose of the vaccine, please do take the opportunity to bolster your protection against COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity. If you have not had any doses of a COVID-19 vaccine yet, you can protect yourself and others by registering online or finding your nearest vaccination centre via the NHS Inform website.”