The COVID-19 pandemic led to the biggest decrease in life expectancy since World War 2, according to a study published by Oxford University on Monday, 27 September, The Guardian reported.
The researchers examined data of life expectancy at birth and at the age of 60 for 2020 and compared it to data of the same parameters from 2015 to 2019.
Out of the 29 countries analysed in the study, which spanned Europe, the US and Chile, life expectancy was down by more than six months compared with 2019 in 22 countries.
There were reductions in life expectancy in 27 of the 29 countries overall.
The biggest declines in life expectancy were among American men – dropping by more than two years, compared to 2019 levels, followed by Lithuanian males (1.7 years).
“For western European countries such as Spain, England and Wales, Italy, Belgium, among others, the last time such large magnitudes of declines in life expectancy at birth were observed in a single year was during the second world war," Dr José Manuel Aburto, a co-lead author of the study, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Males experienced larger life expectancy declines than females across most of the 29 countries.
The researchers said that the fall in life expectancy across countries could be linked to official COVID-19 deaths, according to Reuters.
"The fact that our results highlight such a large impact that is directly attributable to COVID-19 shows how devastating a shock it has been for many countries," Dr Ridhi Kashyap, co-lead author of the paper, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“We urgently call for the publication and availability of more disaggregated data from a wider range of countries, including low- and middle-income countries, to better understand the impacts of the pandemic globally," she added.
(With inputs from The Guardian & Reuters.)