Covid pandemic cut global life expectancy by nearly two years: WHO

GENEVA – Covid-19 cut global life expectancy by almost two years when it raged from 2019 to 2021, wiping out a decade of progress, the World Health Organization said Friday.

“The Covid-19 pandemic reversed the trend of steady gain in life expectancy at birth and healthy life expectancy at birth,” the UN health agency said.

Global life expectancy fell 1.8 years to 71.4 years, the same level as it was in 2012, according to a WHO annual world health statistics study.

The amount of time the average person can expect to live in good health fell 1.5 years to 61.9 years in 2021 — also the 2012 level, the study said.

The impact was even worse than the findings of a study published by the Lancet in January, which said average life expectancy fell 1.6 years during the pandemic.

Researchers for that study said Covid-19 had a “more profound impact” on life expectancy than any other event over the past half century.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the figures highlighted the importance of the global pandemic security accord being negotiated in Geneva “to strengthen global health security, but to protect long-term investments in health and promote equity within and between countries”.

The Lancet researchers estimated that Covid-19 caused 15.9 million excess deaths during 2020-2021, either from the virus or pandemic-related disruption to health systems.

The WHO study said however that life expectancy did not fall in the same way around the world.

The Americas and Southeast Asia were the worst-hit regions, with life expectancy falling by about three years, it said.

The Western Pacific was the least hit, with life expectancy falling just 0.1 year.  –AFP