According to the largest ever survey, Covid caused 28 million deaths.
Research by Oxford University revealed the staggering toll. It calculated the years of death (YLL), in 37 countries. This study provided the most comprehensive assessment of Covid-19's impact to date, measuring the death rate and their age.
The number of premature deaths has increased, despite significant declines in life expectancy in many countries. The true death toll is likely to be higher because the researchers did not include many countries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America in their study due to a lack data.
The study was led by Dr Nazrul Islam of Oxfords Nuffield Department of Population Health. He said that he and his colleagues were stunned by the results, which were published in medical journal, the BMJ.
Islam, who lost family members and colleagues to Covid, stated that we had to stop at one point in order to review everything. Islam was shocked by the numbers despite having experienced the effects of the disease personally. He said that nothing has ever shocked him as much in his life than the pandemic.
Researchers found that Covid's impact was not just about counting the deaths but also about analysing the timing of those deaths. An international team of researchers led by Oxfords Islam estimated the changes in life expectancy as well as the excess years of life lost due to all causes using the YLL measurement.
They compared the observed years of life and life expectancy in 2020 to those expected based upon historical trends between 2005-19 in 37 countries with high-income and upper-middle income.
In all countries, life expectancy increased between 2005 and 2019. There was a decrease in life expectancy between 2005 and 2020 in all countries except New Zealand, Taiwan and Norway. However, there was an increase in life expectancy in Norway and New Zealand. Denmark, Iceland, and South Korea did not show any change in their life expectancy.
Russia had the highest drop in life expectancy over the years (-2.33 for men and 2.14 for women), followed by the US (-2.27 for men and 1.61 in women), and Bulgaria (-1.96 and -1.37 respectively).
In England and Wales, the decline in life expectancy over years was -1.2 for men and -0.8 for women. It was -1.24 for men in Scotland and -0.54 for women in Scotland.
The number of years lost to death in 2020 was higher than anticipated in all countries, except Taiwan and New Zealand. There was a decrease in years lost in Taiwan and New Zealand. In Iceland, South Korea and Denmark, there was no evidence of an increase in years lost.
The remaining 31 countries lost more than 222.5 million years of their lives in 2020. This is 28.1m more than was expected (17.3m for men, 10.8m for women).
Russia had the highest excess years of life per 100,000 people (7,020 for men and 4,760 for women), Bulgaria (7.260 in men, and 3,730 women), and Lithuania (5.430 in men, and 2,640 women). It was 2,140 for men in England and Wales, and 1,210 for women in Wales. In Scotland, it was 2,540 for men and 2,520 in women.