International study finds a drop in life expectancy due to Covid-19

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  • A new study focused on life expectancy in 2020.
  • The researchers collected data from 29 countries.
  • As a result of Covid-19, life expectancy dropped  in 27 of the 29 countries.

A new study has found that in 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic caused an increase in mortality on a scale last seen during World War II in Western Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.

The results of a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found a lower life expectancy at birth in 2020 than in 2015.

The researchers collected life expectancy figures from 29 countries, including most European countries, Chile and the United States of America, using data from 2015 to 2020.

They sorted the data according to the sex of citizens of these nations. They also measured life expectancy at birth and 60 years for 2020 and compared it to trends from 2015 through 2019. 

The study authors examined how specific age groups contributed to the drop in life expectancy in 2020 and the extent of the drop attributed to Covid-19 deaths.

Figures last seen during World War II

The study findings show that life expectancy at birth declined from 2019 to 2020 in 27 out of the 29 countries. The USA experienced the largest loss in life expectancy in 2020, recording a reduction of 2.2 years.

The results show that 11 countries recorded a drop in life expectancy of more than a year in males and eight years in females. The life expectancy drop for people over 60 was attributed to an increased mortality rate associated with Covid-19.

Compared to recent trends, females from 15 and males from 10 of the 29 countries ended up with a lower life expectancy at birth in 2020 than in 2015, which was a year when there was already a decline in life expectancy, mainly caused by a bad flu season.

The researchers observed that the kind of losses in life expectancy observed in Western Europe in 2020 were last seen at the time of World War II.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ | Preparing for the fourth Covid-19 wave: 'There's no one-size-fits-all answer'

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