Recently, a new study, which was conducted by researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, shows that life expectancy rates around the world may decrease due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, especially in countries that have a high number of cases and a death toll.
Although the effect is likely to temporary, it is expected to remain during the health crisis and even years after it. Therefore, reducing life expectancy may be a big concern as the pandemic has only improved in very few countries in the past few months even after imposing a lockdown.
In fact, countries that previously had a high number of infections are still experiencing tremendous daily increases including the United States, Brazil, and even India, which has recently left Brazil behind and become the country with the second-highest number of cases.
How will the virus exactly affect life expectancy rates in such countries? According to the findings of the study, which are published in the journal PLOS One, the infection is likely to bring down the rates even if its prevalence in as less as two percent.
In addition, an increase in the prevalence would directly lead to a further reduction in life expectancy. Countries with high rates are expected to be the most affected.
So far, the researchers have estimated that European countries and North America may be the highest-hit as both have a big population of older adults.
The leading investigator of the study, Guillaume Marois, who is also an associate professor at the Asian Demographic Research Institute of Shanghai University, explains that the research not only shows the future and long-term effects of the pandemic but is also another way to estimate its impact on life.
Furthermore, the findings have also allowed the researchers to compare the magnitude of the impact of the current health crisis with previous similar epidemics.
For instance, studies on the twentieth-century Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 was responsible for 675,000 deaths in the US alone. Overall, the virus impacts more than five hundred million people.
The Spanish flu pandemic lasted more than two years and brought down life expectancy significantly. In the US, the rates reportedly dropped by 11.8 years. In a similar way, the Ebola virus epidemic in Africa has also reduced life in countries including Libera by more than five years.
However, the primary difference between the coronavirus pandemic and the Spanish flu pandemic is that the latter affected younger adults more often while the former is more common in people over the age of fifty.
Therefore, the overall reduction in life expectancy rates during the coronavirus health crisis will happen but it will not be as high as the decrease during the Spanish flu pandemic.
The highest rate of decline in life is likely to be in ethnic and racial minorities, which also have a higher rate of prevalence due to multiple reasons.
Further investigation is needed, according to researchers, especially in the case the prevalence of the virus increases in the coming weeks.