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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Explained: Estimating Covid’s impact on average life expectancy in US

Demographers at University of California–Berkeley have estimated that Covid-19 is likely to shorten the average US lifespan in 2020 by about a year.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 28, 2020 8:09:46 am
People line up at a mobile coronavirus testing site at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)

The US has lost nearly 1.8 lakh lives to Covid-19, and the count is rising by around 1,000 each day. How far has this changed average life expectancy? Demographers at University of California–Berkeley have estimated that Covid-19 is likely to shorten the average US lifespan in 2020 by about a year.

They made their estimates using two scenarios. One was based on a projection of 1 million deaths for the year, and the other on the more likely projection of 2.5 lakh deaths. They conclude that 1 million deaths in 2020 would cut three years off the average US life expectancy, while 2.5 lakh deaths (more likely scenario) would reduce lifespans by about a year.

The findings are published in the journal PNAS.

The reasons the estimated drop in life expectancy modest, the researchers said, are partly because 250,000 deaths is not a large increase on top of the 3 million non-Covid deaths expected for 2020, and because Covid deaths include many older people, who typically have fewer years left.

The researchers said that without the societal efforts that have occurred to lessen the impact of Covid-19, there could have been 2 million deaths projected by the end of 2020. This would have caused a reduction of the average US lifespan by five years, they said.

Source: University of California–Berkeley

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