Prolonged COVID-19 Could Lead to Short-Term Decline in Life Expectancy

The SARS-CoV-2 virus caused a global pandemic that has caused a significant number of mortalities worldwide and if infection rate continues to prevail, this could profoundly impact the quality of life and the life expectancy.

A large scale global research has been conducted at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom, providing of the first time estimates of potential direct effect of Covid-19 on life expectancy. Results indicate that the coronavirus may lead to short-term decline in life expectancy worldwide. The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

The study indicates that unless new interventions to contain the viral transmission are implemented, it will most likely predispose to reduced life expectancy in most affected regions.  The impact of global pandemic will last for many years to come. As of now, USA, Brazil, Mexico, India, and UK are at the top with highest mortalities reported.

Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal

The coronavirus is unique in its characteristics than the previously reported viruses that has cause epidemics and pandemics, such as, its transmission rate is high which high growth rate. Previous outbreaks of the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 2014 Ebola virus epidemic caused a significant drop in life expectancy at birth of as many as 11.8 years and 1.6–5.6 years in the USA and Liberia, respectively, according to the study. Therefore, if mortalities remain persistent in severely affected countries, an unprecedented surge in mortality could lead to significant reduction in years of life.

Current study built a discrete-time period model of life expectancy that simulated the life histories of up to 100,000 individuals by five-year age groups week by week for a period of one year. The model developed a wide range of scenarios including the bias-adjusted age-specific infection fatality rates and their respective 95% credible interval (CrI).

Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal.

The model used to assess the 4 large regions including: North America and Europe, average age 79.2 years with a very high life expectancy; Latin America and Caribbean, average age 76.1 years with a high life expectancy; Southeastern Asia, average age 73.3 years with a medium life expectancy, and sub-Saharan Africa,  average age 62.1 years with a low life expectancy.

Results indicate that 10% prevalence rate of virus is presumed to cause the loss in life expectancy at birth, which is likely above 1 years in Latin America, North America and Europe, and the Caribbean. Prevalence rate of 15% corresponds to one-year life expectancy in Southeastern Asia and 25% prevalence rate corresponds to the one-year life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The prevalence rates are uncertain, yet 50% prevalence of coronavirus infection, that falls in 95% prediction intervals, would cause a considerable drop by three to nine years of life expectancy in North America and Europe, three to eight years in Latin America and the Caribbean, two to seven years in Southeastern Asia, and one to four years in sub-Saharan Africa. However, as long as prevalence rate of Covid-19 remains below 1 or 2%, life expectancy may not be affected,” according to the study.

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