Covid has wiped out years of progress on life expectancy, finds study

According to a study, the Covid pandemic caused the largest decline in life expectancy in Western Europe since the Second World War.
Scientists analysed data from 29 countries that span most of Europe, the US, and Chile and found that there was a decline in life expectancy in most of them. This is a drastic change that has wiped out many years of progress.

With a decrease of 2.2 years relative the 2019 levels, males in the US experienced the largest declines in their life expectancy. Next came males from Lithuania (1.7 years).

According to research by Oxfords Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, life expectancy losses were greater than those that occurred around the dissolution in the eastern bloc in central or eastern Europe.

Dr Jos Manuel Aborto, co-lead author, stated that the most recent time such large declines in life expectancy were seen in one year in western European countries like Spain, England, Wales, Italy, and Belgium. This was in the second world conflict.

After an analysis of 29 countries where official death records for the last year were published, the findings of this paper have been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. There were 27 countries that saw a decrease in their life expectancy.

The impact of Covid-19 had a dramatic effect on the UK's life expectancy for men, according to the Office for National Statistics. According to the ONS, a boy born between 2018-2025 is likely to live to 79. This is down from 79.2 in 2015-17.

Aburto stated that the magnitude of life expectancy loss was striking across many of the countries studied. 22 of these countries experienced greater losses than half a decade in 2020.

Males in 11 countries suffered losses greater than one year, while females in eight countries saw their losses. These countries took an average of 5.6 years to see a 1-year increase in their life expectancy. This is despite the fact that Covid-19 wiped out all progress.

In most of the 29 countries, males saw a greater decline in life expectancy than their female counterparts. According to the paper, most life expectancy declines in different countries could be attributed to official Covid deaths.

Dr Ridhi Kashoyap, another co-lead writer, stated that researchers knew of many issues related to the counting of Covid death, including inadequate testing and misclassification. He said that Covid-19's large impact on many countries is a devastating shock.

We urge the release and availability of more data disaggregated from a wider variety of countries, including those with low and middle income, in order to better understand the global pandemic's impact.

The ONS estimates earlier this month revealed variations in the UK's life expectancy. This refers to the average life expectancy of a newborn if current mortality rates continue for their entire lives.

England has seen a decline in life expectancy, with men living for 79.5 years as of 2015-17, and 79.3 years by 2018-2. In Scotland, it is 77.8 years, while in England, it is 76.8 years. It has increased slightly in Northern Ireland, from 78.4 years to 78.7 in 2015-17, and remained broadly unchanged in Wales at 78.1 in 2018.