Study: Vaccinating Older Americans Saves More Total Years Of Life

Published: Friday, February 26, 2021 - 4:05pm
Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2021 - 1:52pm
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Those charged with prioritizing COVID-19 vaccines must balance stopping the most deaths against preserving the most years of remaining life.

At first glance, that would seem to pit the old against the young. But new research shows the two criteria aren’t in conflict after all.

Clearly, vaccinating the oldest Americans — the age group with the greatest risk of dying from a COVID-19 infection — should save the most lives. Less obvious is the fact that it also saves the most total years of life.

That's because the rate at which COVID-19 deaths increase with age is actually faster than the falloff in remaining lifespan as Americans grow older.

According to research in the journal PNAS, vaccinating a 90-year-old in the United States should save twice as many person-years as vaccinating a 75-year-old, and six times as many as a 50-year-old.

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