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COVID-19 impact: Indians lost 2.6 years of life expectancy, study shows

COVID-19 impact: Indians lost 2.6 years of life expectancy, study shows

The study, authored by a professor of sociology at UCLA, was done with the aim of tracking changes in life expectancies around the world.

The mortality impact of the pandemic has shifted from West to East in Europe and globally from North to South, the study further indicated. The mortality impact of the pandemic has shifted from West to East in Europe and globally from North to South, the study further indicated.

Indians lost over 2.6 years in their life expectancy in 2021 as an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, shows a study published in Population and Development Review, a journal of the Population Council.

The study -- which is titled Global and National Declines in Life Expectancy: An End-of-2021 Assessment” -- was done with the aim of tracking changes in life expectancies around the world. It culled mortality data from several sources and suggested that the number of excess deaths was likely seven times the official number of COVID-19 deaths at the time in India.

“This ratio is consistent with the largest study of the Civil Registration System that placed the number of excess deaths close to three million by the end of 2021, more than six times the official tally at the time,” the study said.

The mortality impact of the pandemic has shifted from West to East in Europe and globally from North to South, the study further indicated.

“As far as current empirical limitations allow them to be quantified, more than 20 per cent of global excess deaths to date might have occurred in India, where an understanding of the scale of the pandemic is slowly emerging, and possibly another 30 per cent in countries where there is hardly any reliable source to evaluate the local situation,” the study argued.

The study also said that substantial annual changes are also observed throughout Asia, from Southeast Asia (Philippines, 3.0 years) and South Asia (India, 2.6 years) to Central Asia (Kazakhstan, 3.2 years) and Western Asia (Lebanon, 3.4 years), and in the few countries in continental Africa with sufficient data (Tunisia, 3.4 years; South Africa, 3.1 years; and Egypt 2.3 years).

From 1950 to 2019, mortality decreases were rare and localised; they were more than compensated for by mortality increases elsewhere, showed the study. The decline from 2019 to 2020, estimated by this study to be at 0.92 year, was the first decline since 1950, the first year the United Nations estimated the world’s life expectancy.

The 2019–2020 decline was followed by another decline of 0.72 year between 2020 and 2021. However, the world’s life expectancy appeared to stabilise by the end of 2021.

“Still, the world’s life expectancy was two years lower in 2021 than it should have been in the absence of Covid-19,” said Patrick Heuveline, the author of the study, who is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).