The Covid-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Global Life Expectancy

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The Impact of Covid-19 on Global Life Expectancy

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on people worldwide, causing a significant decline in average life expectancy. According to a major study conducted by the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the average life expectancy of individuals across the globe fell by 1.6 years during the first two years of the pandemic. This decline is more dramatic than previously anticipated and marks a sharp reversal in the decades-long rise in global life expectancy.

The study, published in The Lancet journal, involved hundreds of researchers analyzing data from 204 countries and territories. It revealed that life expectancy declined in 84 percent of the analyzed regions during the period of 2020-2021. This alarming trend highlights the devastating potential impacts of new viruses on global health.

Austin Schumacher, an IHME researcher and lead author of the study, emphasized the significance of the pandemic’s impact, stating, “For adults worldwide, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a more profound impact than any event seen in half a century, including conflicts and natural disasters.” The researchers estimated that the rate of death for individuals over the age of 15 rose by 22 percent for men and 17 percent for women during this time.

While the decline in life expectancy was observed in various parts of the world, some regions experienced more significant drops than others. Mexico City, Peru, and Bolivia were among the places where life expectancy fell the most. These findings highlight the need for localized interventions and strategies to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on different communities.

However, amidst the concerning decline in life expectancy, there is also some positive news. The IHME’s updated estimates from its Global Burden of Disease study indicate that half a million fewer children under the age of 5 died in 2021 compared to 2019. This continuation of a long-term decline in child mortality is a testament to the progress made in improving child health globally.

Hmwe Hmwe Kyu, an IHME researcher, expressed enthusiasm about this “incredible progress” and emphasized the importance of shifting focus towards addressing the disparities in health across countries and preparing for future pandemics. While the Covid-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges, it is crucial to recognize the strides made in improving overall life expectancy over the years.

The researchers noted that despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic, people still live much longer than they used to. Between 1950 and 2021, the average life expectancy at birth has increased by 23 years, from 49 to 72. This remarkable progress in life expectancy underscores the advancements in healthcare, access to medical interventions, and improved living conditions that have occurred over the past decades.

In conclusion, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound and unprecedented impact on global life expectancy. The decline observed during the first two years of the pandemic is more significant than initially anticipated, marking a reversal in the long-term upward trend in life expectancy. However, it is essential to recognize the progress made in reducing child mortality and the overall increase in life expectancy over the years. Moving forward, addressing disparities in health and preparing for future pandemics should be key priorities for global health initiatives.

Source: The Manila Times

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