Covid-19 led to a 1.6-year decline in the average life expectancy of people around the world in the first two years of the pandemic, a more dramatic decline than previously thought, according to a study. According to hundreds of researchers who have examined data fromInstitute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), based in the United States, represents a dramatic reversal of decades of increases in global life expectancy.

The impact of the virus on life expectancy in the first phase of the pandemic

“For adults around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a more profound impact than any other event in half a century, including conflict and natural disasters,” he said Austin SchumacherResearcher at IHME and lead author of Study published in the journal The Lancet. In 2020-2021, life expectancy fell in 84% of the 204 countries and territories analyzed, showing “the potentially devastating impact” of new viruses, it said in a statement.

Researchers estimated that the mortality rate for people over 15 increased by 22% for men and 17% for women during this period. Mexico City, Peru and Bolivia were among the places where life expectancy fell the most.

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Infant mortality

However, updated estimates from IHME’s groundbreaking Global Burden of Disease study contain good news. Half a million fewer children under five will die in 2021 than in 2019, continuing the long-term decline in child mortality.

The IHME researcher Hmwe Hmwe Kyu welcomed this “incredible progress” and declared that the world is now “next pandemic and eliminate the huge health disparities between countries.” Despite the setback from the pandemic, people are still living much longer than before.

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Between 1950 and 2021, average life expectancy at birth increased by 23 years, from 49 to 72, the researchers said.

Researchers estimate that Covid was responsible for 15.9 million additional deaths in 2020-2021, either directly due to the virus or indirectly due to pandemic-related disruptions. That is one million more deaths than previously estimated by the World Health Organization. Excess deaths are calculated by comparing the total number of deaths to the number that would have been expected if there had been no pandemic.

The exception of the islands

Barbados, New Zealand and Antigua and Barbuda were among the countries with the lowest excess death rates during the pandemic, partly because isolated islands were often spared the brunt of Covid. The study also showed that the population of many wealthy and aging countries is beginning to decline, while it continues to grow in less wealthy countries.

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These dynamics “will lead to unprecedented social, economic and political challenges, such as labor shortages in areas where the younger population is shrinking and resource constraints in areas where the population continues to grow rapidly,” Schumacher warned. “Nations around the world must work together on voluntary emigration,” he added.

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