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Report: Covid vaccines saved some 1,500 lives in Finland since September

The estimate is a conservative one, according to the mathematician behind it.

The report compiled by Svenska Yle was based on data provided by public health authority THL. Image: Benjamin Suomela / Yle, kuvakollaasi: Clas Christiansen, Illusia Sarvas / Yle

Finland's mortality rate from coronavirus infections could have been more than five times higher than it was between September and November. That's according to an Yle analysis of mortality rates for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

A total of 360 people died during the autumn in Finland within one month of being diagnosed with a coronavirus infection.

According to data compiled by Svenska Yle on vaccinated and unvaccinated mortality rates, Covid vaccines prevented this figure from being more than five times higher, or an additional 1,489 deaths.

For example, the figures revealed that although there were 13 Covid-related deaths in Finland among people aged between 30 and 49 during the months of September, October and November, Covid vaccines probably saved the lives of some 51 other people.

Among 50 to 69 year olds, there were 50 Covid-related deaths registered during the autumn months, but vaccines helped to prevent the deaths of a further 300 people.

The study also found that almost all of the 63 people who died between these two age categories, from ages 30 to 69, were unvaccinated.

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A rapid increase in the infection rate over recent weeks has highlighted the importance of vaccines, as mortality rates among unvaccinated people have risen sharply, especially in the over-70 age group.

According to the data gathered by Svenska Yle, some 296 people aged over 70 years died in Finland from Covid in the three months from September to November. However, based on projected mortality rates, vaccines saved the lives of more than 1,100 others.

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Even more deaths were likely prevented

Even the estimate of 1,500 deaths prevented in Finland during the autumn is "conservative", according to Tom Britton, a professor of mathematical statistics at Stockholm University.

Britton told Svenska Yle that the calculations do not, for example, take into account that vaccinated people also protect those who are not vaccinated, as they do not spread the virus to the same extent.

He added that the number of estimated deaths prevented could be doubled.

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Tom Britton, Professor of Mathematical Statistics at the University of Stockholm. Image: Niklas Björling / Stockholms universitet

"The number of lives saved includes the assumption that the infections would have spread in the same way if no-one had been vaccinated," Britton explained. "The virus would have been much more contagious."

In the statistics used in the Svenska Yle analysis, a death is linked to a coronavirus infection when it occurs within 30 days of a positive coronavirus test result. This definition is used internationally.

In practice, it is possible that deaths other than those caused by the coronavirus have occurred. In some cases, there are several causes of death, and coronavirus may have been a decisive factor.

"No matter how coronavirus deaths are defined, there are problems with it. Even if a person undergoes an autopsy, I don’t think it is possible to know with 100 percent accuracy how the person died," Britton said.