Vaccines have saved 150 million children over the last 50 years

Study claims a child is saved by a vaccine against a fatal disease every ten seconds.

At least 150 million children - more than twice the population of the United Kingdom – have been saved by vaccines during the past half a century, in spite of widespread negative attitudes towards vaccination.

This figure comes from a new study by a team of researchers led by Andrew Shattock of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel, Switzerland,, who meticulously estimated the number of lives saved by vaccinations against various diseases over the past 50 years, broken down by disease and region. The results have been published in the medical journal Lancet and cited by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

Number of lives saved by vaccinations from 1974 to 2024, World

Vaccination against measles has had the biggest impact, saving 94 million lives over the past five decades - more than 60% of the total.

Vaccination has been a massive driver of reductions in infant mortality, with more than 5 million children saved in every region, including over 50 million in Africa and 38 million in Southeast Asia.

Children of all ages have benefited greatly from the expansion of immunization programs, but it’s infants who have seen the most crucial impact. In the given period, infant mortality rates have plummeted globally by over two-thirds, from around 10% in 1974 to less than 3% today.

Cumulative number of lives saved from vaccinations since 1974

The researchers estimate that 40% of this decline is due to vaccines. The remaining 60% of the decline has been driven by other factors, including improved nutrition, prenatal and neonatal care, access to clean water and sanitation, and other basic resources.

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