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Estimating the number of severe COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths averted by a nationwide vaccination campaign in Republic of Korea.

BACKGROUND: The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency promotes vaccination by regularly providing information on its benefits for reducing the severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This study aimed to analyze the number of averted severe COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths by age group and quantify the impact of Republic of Korea's nationwide vaccination campaign.

METHODS: We analyzed an integrated database from the beginning of the vaccination campaign on February 26, 2021 to October 15, 2022. We estimated the cumulative number of severe cases and COVID-19-related deaths over time by comparing observed and estimated cases among unvaccinated and vaccinated groups using statistical modeling. We compared daily age-adjusted rates of severe cases and deaths in the unvaccinated group to those in the vaccinated group and calculated the susceptible population and proportion of vaccinated people by age.

RESULTS: There were 23,793 severe cases and 25,441 deaths related to COVID-19. We estimated that 119,579 (95% confidence interval [CI], 118,901-120,257) severe COVID-19 cases and 137,636 (95% CI, 136,909-138,363) COVID-19-related deaths would have occurred if vaccination had not been performed. Therefore, 95,786 (95% CI, 94,659-96,913) severe cases and 112,195 (95% CI, 110,870-113,520) deaths were prevented as a result of the vaccination campaign.

CONCLUSION: We found that, if the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign had not been implemented, the number of severe cases and deaths would have been at least 4 times higher. These findings suggest that Republic of Korea's nationwide vaccination campaign reduced the number of severe cases and COVID-19 deaths.

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