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20 years of life lost per Covid-19 death in India, but impact still less than road injuries: study

The fatalities may cause a total loss of more than four million life years in a full year, according to experts. Still, the impact of Covid-19 deaths is expected to be far less than road injuries, a new study has found.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | November 2, 2020 10:13:44 pm
covid deaths india, road accident deaths, life lost per coronavirus death, years of life lost, Pune news, Indian express newsBy mid-October, India reported more than 7 million Covid cases and over a lakh deaths. (Representational)

On an average, every person who dies from Covid-19 in India could have lived for at least 20 more years. The fatalities may cause a total loss of more than four million life years in a full year, according to experts. Still, the impact of Covid-19 deaths is expected to be far less than road injuries, a new study has found.

In the study published on medrxiv.org, which is yet to be peer reviewed, the researchers have presented preliminary estimates of the years of life lost (YLL) due to Covid-19 so far and the projection for the full year so that the health damage from Covid can be compared with other ailments.

Dr Abhaya Indrayan, member of the Epidemiology Foundation of India and former head of the biostatistics department at University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, told The Indian Express that the YLL by one premature death is the expectation of life at that age.

The YLL for a person is how long the person would have lived had he or she not died prematurely. For example, if a person around 50–59 years of age dies, the life expectation in that age group is 21.8 years and is lost due to death. This metric is crucial to understand the full impact of a disease on the longevity of people.

By mid-October, India reported more than 7 million Covid cases and over a lakh deaths. To calculate the YLL, an age-wise distribution of Covid-19 cases and deaths was obtained from official government sources. For comparison, similar calculations were done for the general population from all causes.

According to researchers, more than 2 million years of life have already been lost due to Covid-19 and the pattern indicates that the country may end up with nearly 4 million years of life lost YLL due to this disease. This is nearly 20 years lost per Covid-19 death. The age-group 50–59 years has been particularly affected, Indrayan said.

“However, even though the YLL so far and anticipated in the full year are enormous, they may still be lower compared with some other causes such as road injuries,” the study said.

According to WHO estimates, the highest life expectancy for YLL by road injuries in 2016 in India was 15.39 million.

“With the Indian life expectancy, these may be around half of this on the pattern of total YLL. So, this was nearly 7.7 million. Compared to this, the 4.04 million YLL by Covid-19 in the whole year is just 57.71 per cent of the YLL due to road injuries. So, the loss of years of life by Covid-19 in full year is expected to be less than 60 per cent of the loss by road injuries,” Indrayan said.

Road injury deaths are more common in younger age groups, which makes the YLL high, he added.

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