March 2, 2021

The coronavirus has taken an average of 16 years of life from each deceased


Health workers treat a coronavirus patient in Galdakao, Bizkaia.

Health workers treat a coronavirus patient in Galdakao, Bizkaia.

The coronavirus responsible for covid-19 has taken an average of 16 years of life from each of the deceased during the pandemic, as calculated by a team of scientists after contrasting the difference between the age of the victims at the time of their death and the life expectancy in their country.

The results of the investigation, which appear this Thursday published in the journal Scientific Reports, have been obtained processing the data of 1,279,866 deaths registered in a total of 81 countries.

The work has been carried out by scientists from research centers and universities in several countries, and among the main authors of the study is the Spanish Héctor Pifarré i Arolas, research director of the Center for Research in Economics and Health at the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona .

Researchers have calculated that the pandemic has claimed more than 20.5 million years of life in the 81 countries in which the study was carried out (about 16 years for each death), and they have observed that in countries where the covid-19 has struck with greater virulence, the number of years of life that have been lost is between two and nine times higher than the years of life that are lost due to seasonal flu in a normal year.

Almost half of the “years of life lost” (44.9 percent) have occurred in individuals between 55 and 75 years of age; 30.2 in individuals under 55 years of age and 25 percent in people over 75 years of age.

In addition, in countries where death counts by gender were available, the number of years of life lost has been much higher among men than among women.

Researchers have compared the deaths associated with covid-19 with other common causes of death worldwide and have found that the number of deaths is much higher than that of a seasonal flu, but between a quarter and a half of the deaths that are attributed to heart disease.

Speaking to Efe, Hector Pifarré has specified that 81 countries with reliable data were chosen for this study, and has observed that there are very important differences between countries in the age group most affected by a greater number of years of life lost.

The researcher has observed that “relatively” developed countries, among which Spain has included, they concentrate a greater part of the years of life that have been lost in the most advanced age groups (older than 75 years), while in less developed countries the loss of life years is concentrated in the youngest age groups (less than 55 years).

“The impact of the pandemic in terms of premature mortality has been very diverse among the countries in the sample,” said Héctor Pifarré, who assured that the results obtained indicate that the covid-19 has had a “particularly serious effect ” in Spain.

The data, he specified, reveal that the years of life lost due to covid-19 in Spain have been approximately seven times greater than those resulting from an average flu, an impact only surpassed (among the countries in the sample and during the period studied) by Italy and the United States.

The Pompeu Fabra University researcher explained that the study is based on public data sources, and has cited among them the databases compiled by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the United Nations World Population Prospects, and the study Global Burden of Disease.

It is possible, in your opinion, that the age profile of people affected by covid-19 changes in the coming months, as the vaccination campaigns progress and the effect of the different mutations of the virus is also verified.

And he has insisted that the results must be interpreted in the context of a pandemic “that has not yet ended and taking into account that in many countries we have implemented exceptional containment measures.”

“Estimates without containment measures suggest many more deaths and, therefore, many more years of life lost,” the researcher at the Center for Research in Economics and Health at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona told EFE.

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