One million deaths in the US from Covid. More than 300,000 could have been prevented.

A tragic fact about the nearly 1 million people who have died of COVID-19 in the US is that a large portion of them did not have to die. In Tennessee, 11,047 of the people who died could have survived if everyone in the state had been vaccinated. In Ohio, that number is 15,875. Nationwide there are nearly 319,000, according to a new estimate.

These figures come from an analysis released Friday by researchers at Brown University and Microsoft AI Health, shared exclusively with NPR, that estimates the portion of vaccine-preventable deaths in each state since COVID-19 vaccines became available earlier in the year. 2021.

In early 2021, when the vaccines were widely distributed, there was a huge demand. At the peak of the spring vaccination campaign, 4 million people were vaccinated in one day. That demand dropped in the summer. A year later, many states are still just over 50% of people fully vaccinated.

How many lives would have been saved if that drop in demand for vaccines had never happened? To answer that question, the Brown and Microsoft researchers calculated the peak vaccination rate for each state and then imagined that rate continuing until every adult in the state was fully vaccinated.

The total for the country is clear: Many of the nearly 1 million COVID deaths occurred in 2020 before vaccines were available. But of the more than 641,000 people who died after vaccines became available, half of those deaths (318,981) could have been prevented if all eligible adults had been vaccinated. And those numbers are even more staggering in certain states where more than half of the deaths could have been prevented.