The COVID pandemic has reduced life expectancy globally by 2 years

In dark blue the countries that have experienced the greatest decline in life expectancy, and in lighter blue those that have experienced the least decline (credit: UCLA)
In dark blue the countries that have experienced the greatest decline in life expectancy, and in lighter blue those that have experienced the least decline (credit: UCLA)

Since the start of the pandemic, 494 million infections and 6.1 million deaths have been recorded worldwide. This increase in the number of deaths from March 2019has had a substantial impact on life expectancy globally.

COVID-19 has reduced global life expectancy by about 2 yearsaccording to a study by Center for Demographic Research at the University of California (UCLA)in Los Angeles, USA, published in the specialized magazine Population and development review.

The researchers indicated that this was the first global decline since the United Nations began estimating this indicator in 1950..

According to the report, global life expectancy decreased by 0.92 years between 2019 and 2020 and by 0.72 years between 2020 and 2021. “Since the 1950s, annual declines of this magnitude have only been observed on rare occasions in some countries, such as Cambodia in the 1970s, Rwanda in the 1990s and perhaps some sub-Saharan African nations at the height of the AIDS pandemic.” , he wrote Patrick Heuveline, professor of sociology and associate director of the California Population Research Center at UCLA.

Life expectancy at birth (later life expectancy) is the most widely used indicator of mortality conditions. More generally, this indicator is commonly considered an indicator of human progress, for example in aggregate indices such as the United Nations Human Development Index.

According to the report, global life expectancy fell by 0.92 years between 2019 and 2020 and by 0.72 years between 2020 and 2021 (Getty)
According to the report, global life expectancy fell by 0.92 years between 2019 and 2020 and by 0.72 years between 2020 and 2021 (Getty)

The UN has estimated that global life expectancy increased steadily between 1950 and 2019, averaging 0.39 years per year. From 45.7 years of life expectancy at birth in 1950 to 72.6 years in 2019 (United Nations 2019).

The smallest gain was during the AIDS pandemicduring which the annual increases fell to 0.2 years. During the coronavirus pandemic, it was the first time that annual life expectancy fell for more than 2 years in at least 50 countries.

Hill and his team analyzed global and national estimates of changes in life expectancy using data on deaths in excess of deaths attributed solely to COVID-19. Although Heuveline was primarily referring to the Global Mortality Data Set, she changed her approach determine the number of excess deaths by country based on the availability and quality of data.

One of the obstacles to overcome for these surveys is the collection of data on a global level. Data has not been reliably recorded for all countries, with most of the high-quality vital statistics coming from around 40 upper-middle-income countries. and thus skewed the results. “Although existing estimates are flawed, they suggest that the number of excess deaths could be two to four times the number of deaths officially attributed to COVID-19, Heuveline noted..

The analysis revealed that the increase in deaths during the pandemic had a substantial impact on global life expectancy, which had previously grown steadily from 1950 to 2019, according to Heuveline. The pandemic caused sharp drops, of 0.92 years between 2019 and 2020 and an additional 0.72 years between 2020 and 2021. Estimates indicate that global life expectancy in 2021 has fallen below that of 2013.

According to the research, Mexico experienced a 5.54-year drop in the country's life expectancy
According to the research, Mexico experienced a 5.54-year drop in the country’s life expectancy

Most of these excess deaths probably occurred outside Europe. and other high-income nations where the impact of the pandemic on mortality has been well documented. “

Research from the University of California has estimated this the impact of the coronavirus pandemic may have been greater in Asian and African countries, notably Egypt, India, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, South Africa, Tunisia and the Philippines, compared to Western European countries such as Italy, Spain and the UK.

Countries of greatest impact

United States of America they experienced an annual variation of just over 2 years of decline, while other countries experienced larger declines. According to the study, Peru recorded a decline of around 7.91 years. Meanwhile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Mexico, Nicaragua and Paraguay all experienced a decline of around 4-6 years.. The report does not detail the exact data for Argentina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia recorded an annual decline of just over 4 years compared to more than 3 years for Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Poland, according to Hill. Egypt lost 2.3 years of life expectancy, India 2.6 years, Kazakhstan 3.2 years, Lebanon 3.4 years, the Philippines 3 years and South Africa 3.1 years.

Countries that did not achieve a 2-year decline in life expectancy included those in East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Western Europe.

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