- Study of 29 countries shows pandemic causes biggest drop in life expectancy since World War II
- At the 2020 mortality rate, English and Welsh men aged 60 years will live 1.04 years less than in 2019
- Women with 60-year-olds performed slightly better in 2020 with a year-over-year reduction of 0.88 compared to 2019
According to a new report, the COVID pandemic has wiped out the life expectancy of men in England and Wales by more than a year.
The Oxford University study of 29 countries shows the pandemic caused the biggest reduction in life expectancy since World War II.
At the 2020 mortality rate, English and Welsh men aged 60 years will live 1.04 years less than in 2019.
And those born in 2020, if the death rate remains the same, will live 1.15 years less than in 2019 and 0.59 years less than in 2015.
Women with 60-year-olds fared slightly better in 2020, with a loss of 0.88 a year in 2019 and only 0.18 compared to 2015.
Researchers from Oxford University analyzed how death rates have changed in 29 countries during the pandemic. The difference between life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020 is shown above
Newborn girls will live 0.91 less by one year than those born in 2019 and 0.24 by one year less than in 2015.
The Oxford University team analyzed mortality rates in 29 countries, mainly in Europe, the US and Chile.
Overall life expectancy had fallen in 27 countries and 22 of them had a decline of six months or more in 2020.
Women in eight countries and men in 11 countries experienced a decline in life expectancy of more than a year.
American men took the biggest hit compared to 2019, reducing their average life by 2.2 years, with Lithuanian men in second place with 1.7.
On average, these countries had taken the past 5.6 years to achieve a one-year increase in life expectancy, so the pandemic took several places by 2014.
Of the 29 countries, only men and women in Denmark and Norway and women in Finland avoided the decline in life expectancy.
Study co-lead author Dr Jose Manuel Eberto, from Oxford’s Leverhulme Center for Demographic Science, said: ‘For Western European countries such as Spain, England and Wales, Italy and Belgium, the last time such a large drop has been in decline. Life expectancy at birth was observed in the same year during World War II.’
The biggest drop since then and pre-Covid happened when the Eastern Block was separated.
Dr Eberto said: ‘In the 22 countries included in our study, they experienced larger losses in 2020 than in the half year.
Women in eight countries and men in 11 countries have suffered more than a year.
‘For context, it took an average of 5.6 years for these countries to achieve a one-year increase in life expectancy recently: progress was wiped out during 2020 by COVID-19.’
The Oxford team gathered an unprecedented dataset on mortality rates from 29 countries for which the official death registration for 2020 was published.
Their results, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, showed that 27 of 29 countries saw a reduction in life expectancy in 2020 and on a scale that erased years of progress on mortality.
Women in 15 countries and men in 10 countries were found to be less likely to be born in 2020 than in 2015, a year in which life expectancy was already negatively affected by a significant flu season.
Co-lead author, Dr Riddhi Kashyap, said: ‘The large decline in life expectancy seen in the US can be partly explained by a significant increase in working-age mortality in 2020.
‘In the US, the increase in mortality in the under 60 age group contributed most significantly to the decline in life expectancy, while in most of Europe the increase in mortality over the age of 60 contributed more significantly.’
He said: ‘While we know there are many issues associated with counting COVID-19 deaths, such as inadequate testing or misclassification, the fact that our results are so large highlights the impact that is directly attributable to COVID-19. , it shows how devastating it is a blow to many countries.
‘We urgently call for the publication and availability of more differentiated data from a wider range of countries, including low- and middle-income countries, to better understand the effects of the pandemic globally.’
Life expectancy, also known as period life expectancy, refers to the average age to which a newborn would survive if current mortality rates continued for their entire lives.
It does not predict the actual lifespan.
It provides a snapshot of the current mortality situation and allows comparison of the size of the mortality effects of the pandemic between different countries and populations.