COVID-19 Shaves 1 Year off US Life Expectancy

The COVID-19 pandemic has erased more than a decade of improvements in life expectancy in the United States and widened racial and ethnic inequalities, Chart shows the change in estimated life expectancy in the U.S. from 2019 to 2020The new CDC data put the United States in line with estimates from England, Wales and Spain, which also calculated about a one-year drop in life expectancy.France projected a half-year decline for men and four-tenths for women. Swedish men also lost an estimated half a year, and women, three-tenths.U.S. life expectancy already “lags substantially behind virtually all of the high-income countries,” Goldman noted. “Now, we’ll just be even further behind.”These estimates look at cases where COVID-19 is listed as the cause of death. But “it’s definitely true that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting other causes of death indirectly,” said University of Oxford demographer José Manuel Aburto, co-author of the study on life expectancy in England and Wales.He said people have delayed treatment for other diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, out of fear of going to the hospital, which may lead to higher death rates.Experts do not expect life expectancy to snap back to normal when the pandemic ends.For many COVID-19 patients, the disease has worsened existing health problems or created new ones that persist long after the virus is gone.Plus, the social and economic impacts of the pandemic “have been terrible on a large segment of the population that will translate into poorer health and ultimately poor survival,” Goldman said. “And those effects will last for quite a while.”


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