COVID caused the largest drop in life expectancy in the U.S. since World War II
WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Exactly deadly coronavirus has the pandemic been in the United States? New research has confirmed that it has had a big hand in reducing life expectancy for many years and a half.
That’s the lowest life expectancy since 2003 and the biggest drop in a year since World War II by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It was a very serious event. I mean, the loss of a year and a half doesn’t give much, but it is,” said research author Elizabeth Arias, a demographer at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the CDC.
“It’s a very big decline and what that means is that our population is really affected,” he said. In fact, overall life expectancy fell from almost 79 in 2019 to about 77 in 2020.
Not only that, the difference in life expectancy between men and women grew to almost six years pandemic. The researchers noted that between 2000 and 2010, the gap narrowed to just under five years.
The decline in life expectancy was caused by deaths caused by COVID-19, which accounted for 74% of the decline, the findings showed.
About 11% of the decline was due to more deaths from accidents and unintentional injuries. Drug overdoses accounted for more than a third of all unintended injury deaths. Overdose deaths were the highest ever in 2020, at more than 93,000, the NCHS reported.
Arias hopes that the decline in life expectancy will continue for some time.
“If we were to eradicate COVID completely, maybe like in 2019, we could return to a mortality model,” he said. “But it could be that the pandemics have indirect consequences that we haven’t seen so far.”
For example, people who lost controls and projections could be diagnosed with the disease later and in more advanced stages than they would otherwise have been, Arias explained.
“We might not get back to the levels we were, even if we removed COVID completely,” he said.
Other findings of the report include:
- Although Hispanic adults in the U.S. live longer than black or white Americans, they experienced the largest decline in the life expectancy of these groups in 2020, from nearly 82 years in 2019 to just 79 years in 2020.
- Hispanic men have experienced the largest drop in life expectancy in nearly four years. COVID-19 accounted for 90% of the decline among Hispanics.
- The difference in life expectancy between Hispanics and whites was significantly closed. The gap between Hispanics and blacks remained essentially the same.
- Black life expectancy fell for almost three years, from around 75 in 2019 to 72. In 2020 COVID-19 was responsible for 59% of the decline.
- The difference in life expectancy between whites and blacks increased from four years in 2019 to almost six years in 2020. That gap was closing in the last three decades.
- White life expectancy fell by just over a year, from almost 79 in 2019 to 78 in 2020. COVID-19 was responsible for 68% of the decline.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says, “In many ways, the report tells us of the profound impact of COVID, not only on direct COVID deaths, but of course on other diseases that probably increased. It’s a great thing to lose life expectancy.”
Benjamin said the nation’s anemic response to the pandemic caused more deaths than necessary.
“We would certainly have fewer deaths from COVID if we responded more effectively,” he said. “Initially, if we had more effective national leadership in public health, much more aggressive testing and follow-up of contacts, it would have been better. We would still have a pandemic, it would still be bad, but it wasn’t as bad.”
Vaccination against COVID-19 is essential, but it is not a complete response to improving life expectancy, Benjamin said.
Moreover, Benjamin is not sure that America has learned a lesson about pandemics.
“Another one is in the corner,” he said. “The wrong lesson in this is not that it’s a 100-year pandemic and we’re not going to see it for another 100 years – no, no, no, no, no. We almost had a lot of failures. SARS, monkey, West Nile virus, Dengue, Zika, Ebola, all had the potential for a pandemic. We’re the only mutation, along with a plane, for something very, very bad. ”
The report was published on July 21 in an NCHS Quickly publish Vital Statistics.
For more information on life expectancy in the US, go here U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Elizabeth Arias, Ph.D., Demographer, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md .; Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association; NCHS ‘ Quickly publish Vital Statistics, “Provisional Life Expectancy Budgets for 2020,” July 21, 2021