Health ministry: Vaccines prevented 8,000 elderly deaths

By The Yomiuri Shimbun

Progress in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign might have prevented more than 8,000 deaths of people aged 65 or older and spared more than 100,000 elderly people from novel coronavirus infection in July and August, according to an estimate compiled by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The ministry estimated the number of people who would have tested positive for the virus in July and August if vaccinations on the elderly population had not progressed as planned.

According to the estimates, which were revealed Wednesday at a meeting of the ministry's COVID-19 advisory body, the number of infections among elderly people would have been about 27,000 in July and 110,000 in August. The actual number of elderly cases was significantly lower -- about 5,900 in July and 24,000 in August.

Similarly, the number of deaths in July was about 1,600 lower than the estimate, and in August the actual figure was about 6,800 lower.

"Although the number of new cases continues to decrease in most areas, the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients remains at a high level, putting severe pressure on medical services," the advisory body said.

The number of newly infected people nationwide from Sept. 1 to 7 was 100,000, down from 140,000 in the preceding seven days.

"There could be several reasons for this, such as the drop in temperature and the progress in vaccinations," said Takaji Wakita, the director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who heads the advisory body.

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