The coronavirus has already killed more than two million people around the world . But it is not enough to count the dead. It should also be noted how soon they are gone. A study now estimates that more than 20.5 million years of life have been lost. The work uses the difference between life expectancy and the official death data to arrive at that figure. It also highlights that although the covid has especially punished the elderly, this is not the same throughout the world. And, compared to other universal conditions, there has been nothing like it in recent times:
20,507,518 years of life lost due to SARS-CoV-2. It is the calculation that a group of researchers have obtained when analyzing the total number of deaths in 81 countries (almost 1.3 million) and taking into account the life expectancy in each state. The figure is a still photo taken with data on January 6 of this year, so now it will be higher.
“We have the death toll. But if we want a serious evaluation of the impact of the pandemic, we have to take into account other variables such as years of life lost ”, says Héctor Pifarré i Arolas, researcher at the Center for Research in Economics and Health at Pompeu Fabra University (CRES -UPF) and co-author of the study. On average, each deceased has died 16 years earlier than they would have been.
In Spain, half a million years of life would have been lost
Pifarré i Arolas immediately contributes another element of the investigation, published in Scientific Reports . "It tends to say that those who die from covid were not very healthy, since they usually suffer from comorbidities." And also that it is primed with the old ones. So their life expectancy would not be much longer without the intervention of the coronavirus. However, the researchers, including scientists from the University of Oxford and Germany's Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR), compared the years lost to the virus with those subtracted from accidents. traffic, coronary heart disease or the flu.
The total number of years lost due to premature death caused by COVID is between a quarter and a half greater than those due to heart problems. The interval is due to the variation of the data for each country. In the case of deaths from traffic accidents, the coronavirus exceeds its impact between 2 and 8 times. But the most dramatic comparison is with the flu. Here, there are places where 9 times more years have been lost to the coronavirus than in the worst year of influenza in the last two decades. "By comparing our data with that of influenza and coronary heart disease, we sought to put their true impact in context." Both also affect people with poorer health more.
New scientists join the strategy of spacing the doses to immunize more people
The work confirms that the coronavirus has hit the elderly harder, but only half. A quarter of the years of life lost were among those who were over 75 years old. But another 44.9% corresponded to people between 74 and 55 years old. If the cut is put below that year, the figure is still significant: from the 54 is concentrated a third of the time that will no longer be lived.
Covid is not so much a disease of the old as "a disease of the fragile" Héctor Pifarré i Arolas, Center for Research in Economics and Health of the Pompeu Fabra University
But it is that when comparing by country, the one of the elderly is further qualified. While in places like Australia, Switzerland or Denmark, annuities have hardly been lost among the youngest, in Nepal, Kenya or Togo it is those under 55 who lose the most. And there are a dozen countries on this last list. For example, if the average number of years lost due to death is 16 years, in Peru it rises to 20.2. To the fact that the life expectancy of the elderly is lower in many less developed countries, Pifarré i Arolas adds that “the young population bears a greater burden of disease”. So covid is not so much a disease of the old as “a disease of the fragile”.
The MPIDR researcher Enrique Acosta recalls that in many developing countries they are still in a phase of the epidemiological transition in which infectious diseases are a great drag on life expectancy. "But they have not finished leaving this phase and are already entering that of chronic diseases", details the co-author of the study. For example, diabetes, a recognized risk factor in covid “has a higher prevalence in many African countries than in other more advanced ones”, adds Acosta.
As for Spain, as of January 4, 2021 and with 50,899 deaths computed, the total years of life lost was more than half a million: 572,567. The average life lost for each deceased was 11.4 years.
Both Spanish and global data must be taken in context. In addition to being provisional, there are underlying issues that relativize them, such as the excess number of deaths during the pandemic compared to other years. In addition, they only include information from 81 countries of a pandemic still in full swing and, as the authors emphasize, which has not been allowed to move and has been fought with force.
Acosta clarifies that the millions of years of life lost They must be overrated. "The average life expectancy in a country is greater than that of many of those infected who ended up dying, due to their previous comorbidities," he recalls. But it also recognizes that the uncertainty about the actual number of deaths from covid introduces another bias, this time downwards.
You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow MATERIA at Facebook , Twitter , Instagram or subscribe here to our Newsletter .