The Covid crisis has reduced average life expectancy across the world

The Covid crisis has reduced average life expectancy across the world

Average life expectancy, which had been steadily increasing for decades across the world, suddenly declined in 2020 and 2021 during the worst of the Covid pandemic, according to a study published Tuesday in the Lancet.

According to this work, life expectancy declined at the time in the vast majority (84%) of the more than 200 countries and territories studied by the researchers, i.e. almost the entire world.

Life expectancy has fallen by more than a year and a half

On average, across all the data examined, life expectancy fell by more than a year and a half per person in 2020-2021 (1.6 years). This resulted in an excess mortality of 15.9 million deaths, a little more than the approximately 15 million estimated by the reference figures of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Among adults around the world, Covid pandemic has had an unparalleled impact for half a century, even taking into account wars and natural disasters“, underlined the main author of the study, Austin Schumacher, researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

This type of work, however, makes it difficult to distinguish between deaths directly linked to Covid and those caused by the consequences of the health restrictions put in place to contain the epidemic.

Infant mortality falling during this period

On other levels, the study also provides good news. Thus, infant mortality continued to decline during the period studied.

Among children under five years old, some 500,000 fewer deaths were observed in 2021, compared to 2019.

Extraordinary progress“, underlined another researcher at IHME, Hmwe Hmwe Kyu, now considering it a priority to avoid “the next pandemic (while) reducing major health disparities across countries“.