Over the last century, the worldwide average life expectancy has more than doubled due to advancements in medicine, working, and living conditions– with people around the globe living to be over seventy years old.
But, in 2020, virtually every country was faced with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. And this month, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford revealed that the virus caused a prolonged life expectancy decline in numerous nations.
The study used data from twenty-nine countries in Europe– including Norway, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, France, and more– as well as the United States and Chile.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, every single country suffered lower life expectancies in 2021 as compared to what pre-pandemic trends predicted.
In the past, global epidemics– such as the Spanish flu– also witnessed steep declines in life expectancy. However, the “bounce back” rate was much more rapid as compared to COVID-19. This fact alone disputes the widespread claims that the pandemic was no more impactful than the common flu.
Still, the study did reveal a prominent geographical divide in 2021. Many countries in Western Europe– such as France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Sweden– experienced complete “bounce backs”– in which their life expectancies returned to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
England and Wales did not experience the same rise, though, and only experienced a partial bounce back. Additionally, Northern Ireland and Scotland remained stagnant at the same 2020 life expectancy.
The United States and Eastern Europe experienced even worse or compounding life expectancy losses over the same time period, though.
In fact, the researchers paralleled the COVID-19 losses in Eastern Europe against the losses experienced during the Soviet Union break in 1991.