COVID-19 vaccines saved nearly 241,000 lives in the United States and prevented more than 1 million virus-related hospitalizations in the first six months of the country's inoculation program, according to a new research model.

A research letter, published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Network Open, found coronavirus vaccinations also prevented more than 14 million COVID-19 cases from mid-December 2020 — when the US COVID-19 vaccine campaign first kicked off — to 30 June 2021.

"Our analytical model suggested that the US COVID-19 vaccination program was associated with a reduction in the total hospitalizations and deaths by nearly half during the first six months of 2021," the researchers from Yale, the University of Maryland, and the York University in Toronto, Canada, wrote.

The researchers added that COVID-19 vaccinations "prevented a wave" of cases driven by Alpha, the coronavirus variant first detected in the UK, "that would have occurred in April 2021 without vaccination.

"As new variants of SARS-CoV-2 continue to emerge, a renewed commitment to vaccine access, particularly among underserved groups and in counties with low vaccination coverage, will be crucial to preventing avoidable COVID-19 cases and bringing the pandemic to a close," the researchers said in the letter.

Limitations to the model, according to the researchers, "included the use of reported cases for fitting", meaning unreported cases of COVID-19 couldn't be factored into the model.

Researchers also said they didn't consider the effect of immunity waning "after vaccination or recovery within the study time frame".

The published research comes as new COVID-19 cases in the US and worldwide continue to shatter records due to the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Hospitalizations reached a new record high in the US this week, and ICU beds in hospitals across the country are more than 80 percent full, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 208 million people in the US — or 62.6 percent of the total population — is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the US has recorded more than 835,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to the CDC.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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