The COVID pandemic has caused the biggest decline in life expectancy in Western Europe since the second world war, as per a study. Life expectancy dropped by six months compared with 2019 in 22 of the 29 countries analysed in the study, which spanned Europe, the United States and Chile. Overall, there were reductions in life expectancy in 27 of the 29 countries.
Males in the US experienced the biggest decline (with a decline of 2.2 years relative to 2019 levels), followed by Lithuanian males (1.7 years). Overall, men's life expectancy dropped by more than a year in 15 countries, compared to women in 11 countries. It wiped out the progress on mortality that had been made in the previous 5.6 years.
'Decline Attributable To COVID Deaths'
The life expectancy losses exceeded those recorded around the time of the dissolution of the eastern bloc in central and eastern Europe, according to the research, led by scientists at Oxford's Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science. The university said most life expectancy declines across different countries could be linked to official COVID-19 deaths.
"The fact that our results highlight such a large impact that is directly attributable to COVID-19 shows how devastating a shock it has been for many countries," said Dr Ridhi Kashyap, co-lead author of the paper, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Dr José Manuel Aburto, a co-lead author of the study, said that for western European countries like Spain, England and Wales, Italy, Belgium, among others, the last time such large magnitudes of declines in life expectancy at birth were observed in a single year was during the second world war.
In the US, the rise in mortality was mainly among those of working age and those under 60, while in Europe, deaths among people aged over 60 contributed more significantly to the increase in mortality.