Deaths in the US from COVID-19 lead to a decrease in life expectancy of more than a year

According to an analysis by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) and Princeton University, deaths caused by COVID-19 have reduced overall life expectancy in the United States by 1.13 years. In epidemiological terms, this is a huge decline. Life expectancy is one of the most accurate barometers of a society’s health.

In addition to the catastrophe of the pandemic, a new variant of the coronavirus has been detected in more than 12 states, threatening to further exacerbate the crisis.

On New Year’s Day, the US recorded 20.7 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 357,000 deaths, making it the third leading cause of death behind cancer and heart disease. However, this conservative figure only represents confirmed cases.

Overall, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found more than 475,000 excess deaths through early December. It has been estimated that almost two-thirds of the excess deaths are directly attributed to COVID-19. Compared to 2019, deaths in the US have increased more than 10 percent.

Figure 1 Excess deaths in the United States [Source CDC]

The term “life expectancy” is often used in epidemiology to assess the health of a nation, but allows comparison between countries and groups of people. In its simplest expression, it is an estimate of the average age that people in a given population will be when they die.

The metric most commonly used by international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank, called “life expectancy per period”, is the estimated average length of life of a particular population from birth to death. It doesn’t take into account how death rates change over time. Instead, it focuses on mortality patterns at a given time.

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