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Behavioral Changes and Vaccines Saved Over 800,000 Lives during COVID-19 Pandemic

Behavioral Changes and Vaccines Saved Over 800,000 Lives during COVID-19 Pandemic
Behavioral Changes and Vaccines Saved Over 800,000 Lives during COVID-19 Pandemic

Before the first COVID-19 vaccine became available, Americans changed their behavior to avoid getting the virus by social distancing and wearing masks. New research from CU Boulder says that change, along with vaccines, saved more than 800,000 lives.

Social distancing allowed 68 percent of Americans to get vaccinated before they contracted the virus, which meant they had much better survival rates than people who contracted the virus before getting vaccinated. Without the behavioral changes, the paper’s authors estimate there would have been 60,000 more deaths each day during the peak of the pandemic.

“We had never really seen the type of behavioral changes that we saw during the COVID pandemic before,” said Stephen Kissler, co-author of the paper and an assistant professor of computer science at CU Boulder. “I honestly, at the time, did not think that it was highly likely to be possible to sustain that type of behavioral change for as long as we did.”


Kissler, a mathematical epidemiologist, teamed up with Andrew Atkeson, a professor of economics at UCLA to write the paper. Together, they gathe
    

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