COVID-19 triggers biggest drop in life expectancy since World War 2; Study

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The life expectancy of American men is dropping by more than two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest decline since World War 2, according to a new study by Oxford University.

Out of the 29 countries analyzed in the study, the life expectancy fell by more than six months in 22 countries when compared with 2019. Further, there were reductions in life expectancy in 27 of the 29 nations.

The study said that most life expectancy reductions across different countries could be linked to official COVID-19 deaths. There have been nearly 5 million reported deaths caused by the new coronavirus so far.

The study is the first to use an extensive collection of demographic data from 29 countries representing most of Europe, Chile and the US, to examine the impact of the pandemic on life expectancy in 2020. The impact of COVID-19 on lifespans may be even greater in less developed countries that weren’t included in the research.

“The fact that our results highlight such a large impact that is directly attributable to COVID-19 shows how devastating a shock it has been for many countries,” said Dr. Ridhi Kashyap, co-lead author of the paper, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

In most of the countries, there were greater drops in life expectancy for men than women, with the largest decline in American men, who saw life expectancy drop by 2.2 years relative to 2019.

Overall, men had more than a year trimmed off in 15 countries, compared to women in 11 countries. This wiped out the progress on mortality that had been made in the previous 5.6 years.

In the US, the rise in mortality was mainly among those of working age and those under 60, while in Europe, deaths among people aged over 60 contributed more significantly to the increase in mortality.

Dr. Kashyap appealed to more countries, including low- and middle-income nations, to make mortality data available for further studies. “We urgently call for the publication and availability of more disaggregated data to better understand the impacts of the pandemic globally,” she added.

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