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How many deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases will be estimated to have occurred worldwide in 2020?

A global reduction in child deaths in the past 25 years has been primarily achieved by reducing the number of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). VPDs are currently estimated to result in 1.5 million deaths each year while immunization is estimated to prevent 2-3 million additional deaths each year.

There is significant concern that pauses in preventive immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a resurgence in deaths due to VPDs. Such pauses are taking place in order to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. As of 26 March 2020, the WHO is advising that mass vaccination campaigns be temporarily paused due to the increased risk of promoting community circulation of SARS-CoV-2.

There is an urgent need to determine whether temporary halts/delays in immunizations may result in additional deaths due to VPDs in the near future.

The following diseases, which according to the the Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network account for the vast majority of deaths that are preventable through the use of effective vaccines, will be considered for this question:

  • Tuberculosis (1.18M deaths in 2017)
  • Measles (95k deaths in 2017)
  • Whooping cough (92k deaths in 2017)
  • Hepatitis B (90k deaths in 2017)
  • Hib meningitis (76k deaths in 2017)
  • Tetanus (38k deaths in 2017)
  • Meningococcal meningitis (30k deaths in 2017)
  • Yellow fever (5k deaths in 2017)
  • Diphtheria (4k deaths in 2017)

Total number of deaths from above VPDs in 2017: 1.61 million

This question asks: How many deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases will be estimated to have occurred worldwide in 2020?

This question will resolve to the sum of worldwide estimated deaths in 2020 due to tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough, hepatitis B, Hib meningitis, tetanus, meningococcal meningitis, yellow fever, and diphtheria (this figure was 1.61 million for 2017).

If the Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network publishes data for 2020, then this data will be consulted for resolution. If they do not publish data for 2020, then Metaculus will resolve by adding up estimates of deaths caused by each disease as per the WHO or credible research publications.

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