28 million 'extra years of life' lost in 2020 due to Covid

3 November 2021, 23:34

The toll of the pandemic was laid bare in a global study.
The toll of the pandemic was laid bare in a global study. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

About 28 million "extra years of life" have been lost in one year due to premature deaths related to coronavirus.

The number was five times higher than that associated with the flu epidemic in 2015, a global study found.

It was calculated by comparing the number of lives cut short against the expected life span of those who died throughout 2020.

However, with the virus impacting people of any age, the likelihood of increase was inevitably high.

It comes as the government has so far resisted calls to turn to its "Plan B" over the winter months, insisting the country will be able to remain unlocked without mandatory masks and social distancing like earlier on in the pandemic.

Read more: 'No plans whatsoever' for schools to close again due to Covid

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The toll of the pandemic was revealed as part of a study of 37 countries, led by a team at Oxford University.

Researchers also found reductions in life expectancy for both men and women in all countries except New Zealand, Taiwan and Norway, which instead reported an increase.

There was no change in Denmark, Iceland and South Korea.

Years of life lost were measured by calculating the difference between observed and expected years a person was expected to live. The average life expectancy dropped by a year in the UK.

The authors wrote: "More than 28 million excess years of life were lost in 2020 in 31 countries, with a higher rate in men than women.

"Excess years of life lost associated with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 were more than five times higher than those associated with the seasonal influenza epidemic in 2015."

Rising Covid transmission rates and hospitalisations have led to concerns among medical experts in recent months, and even saw top scientist Sir Jeremy Farrar step down from the SAGE advisory group.

Read more: Unvaccinated people 32 times more likely to die with Covid-19, study suggests

It comes following global estimates that about five million lost their lives to the virus during 2020.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested the number is actually much higher.

Leaders have urged Britons to take up the offer of Covid booster jabs in the hope of curbing a potential winter crisis likely to be caused by both Covid and the flu.