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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The coronavirus vaccine rollout across the United States helped prevent around 279,000 deaths and avert 1.25 million hospitalizations, a new study from Yale University found.

By the numbers: The U.S. has administered 332,345,797 vaccines so far, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study found that if half as many vaccines had been given, there would have been approximately 120,000 additional deaths and at least 45,000 more hospitalizations.

  • Almost 604,000 COVID deaths have been reported in the U.S. as of Thursday, according to the CDC.

The big picture: An AP analysis based on government data from May found that almost all COVID deaths in the U.S. are among unvaccinated people. Fully vaccinated people accounted for 0.8% of deaths in May.

  • Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director and White House adviser, said most deaths among the unvaccinated were "avoidable and preventable."

Details: Researchers examined vaccinations and the pandemic's trajectory from October 2020 through July 2021.

  • They compared two scenarios: One examining the current vaccine rollout, and another one where half as many daily vaccines were given.

What they're saying: "The vaccines have been strikingly successful in reducing the spread of the virus and saving hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States alone," lead study author Alison Galvani said.

"Yet until a greater majority of Americans are vaccinated, many more people could still die from this virus. The danger is not over. Now is not the time to let down our guard."

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents

Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

2 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.