In a new study, researchers found that over 20.5 million years of life may have been lost due to COVID-19 globally, with an average of 16 years lost per death.
Years of life lost – the difference between an individual’s age at death and their life expectancy – due to COVID-19 in heavily affected countries maybe two to nine times higher than years of life lost due to average seasonal influenza.
The research was conducted by a team at Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
In the study, the team estimated years of life lost due to COVID-19 using data on over 1,279,866 deaths in 81 countries, as well as life expectancy data and projections for total deaths of COVID-19 by country.
They estimated that in total, 20,507,518 years of life may have been lost due to COVID-19 in the 81 countries included in this study – 16 years per individual death.
Of the total years of life lost, 44.9% seems to have occurred in individuals between 55 and 75 years of age, 30.2% in individuals younger than 55, and 25% in those older than 75.
In countries for which death counts by gender were available, years of life lost was 44% higher in men than in women.
Compared with other global common causes of death, years of life lost linked to COVID-19 is two to nine times greater than years of life lost linked to seasonal flu, and between a quarter and a half, as much as the years of life lost attributable to heart conditions.
The researchers caution that the results need to be understood in the context of an ongoing pandemic: they provide a snapshot of the possible impacts of COVID-19 on years of life lost as of 6 January 2021.
Estimates of years of life lost maybe over-or under-estimates due to the difficulty of accurately recording COVID-19-related deaths.
One author of the study is Héctor Pifarré i Arolas.
The study is published in Scientific Reports.
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