London, Nov 7 (IANS) More than 28 million years of life were lost than expected in 2020 in 31 upper-middle and high-income countries, finds a new study.
According to a study, except for Taiwan, New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and South Korea, all other countries examined had more premature deaths than expected in 2020, with a higher rate in men than women.
The highest rates of excess premature deaths were in Russia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and the US.
“As many of the effects of the pandemic might take a longer time frame to have a measurable effect on human lives, continuous and timely monitoring of excess years of life lost (YLL) would help identify the sources of excess mortality and excess YLL in population subgroups,” the researchers, including Nazrul Islam from the University of Oxford, said.
YLL measures both the number of deaths and the age at which it occurs, making it a more detailed assessment of Covid-19’s impact on populations.
For the study, published by The BMJ journal, using this measure, the team set out to estimate the changes in life expectancy and excess years of life lost from all causes in 2020.
They compared the observed life expectancy and years of life lost in 2020 with those that would be expected based on historical trends in 2005-19 in 37 upper-middle and high-income countries.
Between 2005 and 2019, life expectancy at birth increased in both men and women in all the countries studied.
In 2020, there was a decline in life expectancy in both men and women in all countries except New Zealand, Taiwan, and Norway, where there was a gain in life expectancy.
The highest decline in life expectancy (in years) was in Russia (-2.33 in men and -2.14 in women), the US (-2.27 in men and -1.61 in women), Bulgaria (-1.96 in men and -1.37 in women), Lithuania (-1.83 in men and -1.21 in women), Chile (-1.64 in men), and Spain (-1.11 in women).
Overall, excess years of life lost to the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 were more than five times higher (2,510 per 100,000) than those associated with the seasonal influenza epidemic in 2015 (458 per 1,00,000).