More than 28 million additional years of life were lost than expected in 2020 due to Covid, according to a study of upper-middle and high-income countries.
Researchers headed by an Oxford University team concluded that millions of years of life have been lost due to untimely deaths by comparing the lives cut short by COVID-19 with the anticipated typical life spans of individuals who died.
In the study published by the British Medical Journal Wednesday, except for Taiwan, New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and South Korea, all other countries examined had more premature deaths than expected in 2020, with a higher rate in men than women.
The findings come on the wake of a dramatic drop in global life expectancy.
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“More than 28 million excess years of life were lost in 31 countries in 2020,” the study’s authors stated, “with a higher rate in men than women.” The number of extra years of life lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was more than five times larger than the number of years lost as a result of the seasonal influenza outbreak in 2015.”
“As many of the effects of the pandemic might take a longer time frame to have a measurable effect on human lives, continuous and timely monitoring of excess years of life lost (YLL) would help identify the sources of excess mortality and excess YLL in population subgroups,” the researchers, including Nazrul Islam from the University of Oxford, said.
The results come after global estimates from Johns Hopkins University suggested that COVID-19-related deaths have already surpassed five million worldwide.
The actual figure, according to the World Health Organization, is substantially higher.
The highest decline in life expectancy (in years) was in Russia (-2.33 in men and -2.14 in women), the US (-2.27 in men and -1.61 in women), Bulgaria (-1.96 in men and -1.37 in women), Lithuania (-1.83 in men and -1.21 in women), Chile (-1.64 in men), and Spain (-1.11 in women).
Overall, excess years of life lost to the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 were more than five times higher (2,510 per 100,000) than those associated with the seasonal influenza epidemic in 2015 (458 per 1,00,000).