THE coronavirus pandemic has already knocked two years off the average life expectancy for both men and woman, a study reveals.
Oxford university researchers say Covid-19 has taken life expectancy back to 2008 levels in a burden on the nation’s public health that may yet to be fully seen.
The study showed the pandemic cut life expectancy for women from 83.5 years in 2019 to 81.8 years for those born in the first half of 2020, and from 79.9 years to 78 years for men.
Lead researcher Jose Manuel Aburto, of the Department of Sociology at Oxford University, explained that life expectancy in England and Wales had been steadily improving for 50 years before stagnating in the past decade.
The study – designed to estimate the burden of COVID-19 on mortality and life expectancy in England and Wales – found the two nations were “amongst the worst performers in terms of excess deaths”.
In fact, the research asserts it is likely that current estimates of excess deaths and life expectancy losses are underestimated.
“We have provided estimates of life expectancy for 2019 and the first half of 2020, which show that life expectancy dropped a staggering 1.7 and 1.9 years for females and males respectively between those years,” the study reads.
“To put this in perspective, male and female life expectancy in the first half of 2020 regressed to the levels of 2008.”
The study, shared on academic website Medrxiv prior to publication in a peer-reviewed journal, used official data on all-cause mortality from the Office for national Statistics from March 2 – the first time a Covid-19 death in England and Wales was registered – to the end of June.
To put this in perspective, male and female life expectancy in the first half of 2020 regressed to the levels of 2008.
Jose Manuel Aburto, Oxford University
A team of researchers then compared this data with previous trends, looking at excess death and life expectancy and lifespan inequality.
“Quantifying excess deaths and their impact on life expectancy at birth provides a more comprehensive picture of the full Covid-19 burden on mortality,” the researchers said.
“Whether mortality will return to or even fall below the base-line level remains to be seen.”
A possible second wave of the virus makes the future impact on life expectancy even more unclear.
Its long-term health effects could also lead to earlier deaths.
But if the most vulnerable people have already died, it is possible that we may see fewer deaths than expected for the rest of 2020.
The findings come as the coronavirus death toll in the UK reached 45,233 on Friday with 114 more deaths recorded.
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