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In Europe, the Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented drop in life expectancy for seventy years

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The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented decline in life expectancy since World War II in Western Europe. In a study published Monday, October 17 in the journal Nature Human Behaviordemographers from the Leverhulme Center for Population Sciences in Oxford (UK) and the Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock (Germany) analyzed the changes in this indicator between 2019 and 2021 in twenty-seven European countries as well as the United States and Chile.

While all countries have experienced a loss in life expectancy during the pandemic, the trend is much more marked in eastern and central Europe. The biggest drops are observed in Bulgaria, which loses a total of 3.5 years of life expectancy over two years, followed by Poland, with 2.8 years. On the other side of the Atlantic, the United States comes in third place (−2.4 years, according to this study). Only Norway comes out of the period with a net increase between 2019 and 2021, with almost two additional months of life expectancy, a slight gain notably made possible by an early vaccination campaign and a more efficient health system.

“In reality, the losses in life expectancy are even greater than the authors of the study show because, without Covid-19, one would have expected the levels of life expectancy to increase a little. everywhere in 2020 and in 2021 »emphasizes Carlo Giovanni Camarda, research director within the National Institute of Demographic Studies, which did not participate in the study. In addition, many countries lack reliable data and could not be taken into account in the study, such as Brazil and Mexico. “In 2020, the losses in life expectancy suffered by [ces deux pays] exceeded those recorded in the United States, so it is likely that they have continued to experience mortality impacts in 2021, and even potentially exceeded the 43 months of loss that we estimated for Bulgaria ”explains José Manuel Aburto, of the University of Oxford, co-author of the study.

Some bounces back to pre-pandemic levels

Life expectancy is a snapshot of current mortality conditions, should they continue without improvement or deterioration. It is calculated on the basis of all deaths occurring in a year, all causes combined; it therefore does not depend on the accuracy of the registration of deaths linked to Covid-19, which may lack rigor and vary according to the country. It thus provides a broader picture of the impact of the pandemic on mortality and facilitates comparisons between countries and with past disasters.

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