'DEVASTATING': Covid's shocking impact on life expectancy revealed

·3-min read

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on life expectancy, a new study published by Oxford University has revealed.

The study looked at Europe, the United States and Chile and found life expectancy fell more than six months compared to 2019 in 22 out of the 29 countries.

Out of the 29 countries in the study, 27 saw a reduction in life expectancy.

Covid-19 has dramatically impacted the life expectancy, across several countries looked at in a study. Source: Getty Images
Covid-19 has dramatically impacted the life expectancy, across several countries looked at in a study. Source: Getty Images

"The Covid-19 pandemic triggered significant mortality increases in 2020 of a magnitude not witnessed since World War II in Western Europe or the breakup of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe," the report said.

"Females from 15 countries and males from 10 ended up with lower life expectancy at birth in 2020 than in 2015."

There have been nearly five million reported deaths which can be attributed to Covid and Oxford said most life expectancy reductions across different countries could be linked to official Covid deaths.

"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 countries, there was a greater drop in life expectancy for men, compared to women in most counties.

The largest decline was among men in the US, who saw life expectancy drop by 2.2 years, relative to 2019.

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

TOPSHOT - Gravedigger Fernando Quezada (R), 27, and a co-worker carry a coffin at the General Cemetery in Santiago, on August 5, 2020, amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. - Used to dealing with death, COVID-19 has put gravediggers to test as they have never before faced such a physical and emotional situation, with burials giving them no rest. (Photo by Claudio REYES / AFP) (Photo by CLAUDIO REYES/AFP via Getty Images)
Covid-19 has put gravediggers in Chile to the test with non-stop burials. Source: Getty

The report noted the death rate with Covid tends to be higher among males, compared to females and with higher rates of death among older age groups.

"Reductions were mostly attributable to increased mortality above age 60 years and to official Covid-19 deaths," it said.

In the United States, 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 said.

The results from the study were labelled as "devastating" by epidemiologist Dr Eric Feigl-Ding.

"Sweden lost more than all its Scandinavian neighbors," he tweeted.

"And we haven’t added 2021 #DeltaVariant yet!"

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