How vaccines saved millions of lives

Infographic: How People Died In The 20th Century


Over 5.2 billion people died in the 20th Century. Although the 20th Century ended a mere 13 years ago, from a statistics standpoint, we know we will probably die of different diseases (and other less natural causes) than our forebears. The causes of death evolve over time as medicine improves, science ameliorates risk, lifestyles change, environments shift, and politics reshape our world. British data journalist David McCandless (of Information is Beautiful) created this fascinating infographic based on a project, commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, a U.K. charity devoted to human health, called Death in the 20th Century, which shows us, graphically, the leading causes of mortality from 1900 to 2000, worldwide. 

Some of the numbers are shocking. Humanity is the cause of nearly 1 billion (or just short of 20%) of the deaths in the 20th Century. These numbers include war, murders, religious intolerance, suicide, and other deadly crimes that humans perpetrate against one another. Maybe the 21st Century will knock that number down, though I doubt any of us are optimistic given the way this century has started.

But the most interest information is in the Infectious Disease section. Nearly 1.7 billion people have died from infectious diseases. Some of the more interesting numbers are:

In the 21st Century, the numbers of deaths from these diseases will probably be in the few thousand worldwide. Why? Because of vaccines. Not better sanitation. Not better health care facilities. But because of vaccines.

And in the 21st Century, as more vaccines are developed and brought to market, many of these infectious diseases will be less of a problem. 

Vaccines saves lives. Literally hundreds of millions of lives.

Use the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.


The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

5 Replies to “How vaccines saved millions of lives”

  1. I've read a bit about it a couple of years ago. It contains a major statistical problem in that it takes the results of a survey of unvaccinated children then compares the results to other surveys of children, vaccinated or not. The first problem is each survey has it's own criteria for inclusion.

    Moreover, the "German study" polled parents, who, without a doubt, would defend their anti-vaccination stance by making claims that may or may not be true.

    The only appropriate "survey" of this type would be accessing medical records in a random and blinded manner (for example, someone would read the medical record without knowledge of whether the patient was vaccinated, then determine what diseases or condition afflicted the patient). There are numerous vaccine studies that rely upon this type of retrospective epidemiological study.

    The German study is about at the level of political polling. It has no value, except to give you biased information about what parents of unvaccinated children "believe" afflicts their children. In other words, it has no value.

  2. have you evaluated the 'new' article making the rounds that claims that vaccinated kids ae sicker than unvccinated kids? something about comparing kids in germany. it seems to cluster all the usual suspects like asthma, allergies, etc. into one big 'new' study that proves that vaccinations in the USA are too aggresive. HELP!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.