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New Data Reveals COVID-19 Spurred A Prolonged Global Life Expectancy Decline And Led To Clear East-West Divide

In turn, a distinct Eastern versus Western divide in COVID-19 life expectancy was uncovered. And the most significant losses were witnessed in countries that already had lower life expectancy rates prior to the pandemic.

For instance, Bulgaria suffered the worst life expectancy decline of about forty-three months– or just over three and a half years.

Joining Bulgaria with the worst life expectancy losses included countries such as the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Greece, Lithuania, and Slovakia.

And, of course, the amount of COVID-19 vaccinations available and distributed also had an effect that mirrored the East-West divide.

The countries with higher rates of fully vaccinated citizens witnessed lower life expectancy declines and vice versa.

Interestingly, though, those who benefitted the most from these vaccination efforts were the elderly– and mortality rates increased among younger generations.

“A notable shift between 2020 and 2021 was that the age patterns of excess mortality shifted in 2021 towards younger age groups as vaccines began to protect the old,” explained Dr. Ridhi Kashyap, one of the study’s co-authors.

Still, there were countries that defied the inoculation pattern and still experienced rising life expectancy deficits despite high vaccination rates. And according to the researchers, various factors could have caused these countries to become outliers.

“Finer-grained details of the age prioritization of vaccine roll-out and the types of vaccines used may account for these differences, as well as correlations between vaccine uptake and compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions or the overall health care system capacity,” said Dr. Jonas Scholey, another one of the study’s co-authors.

According to the data, though, countries such as France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Sweden were able to strike a balance and successfully protect both young and old citizens.

It is because of this that the researchers believe these nations were able to bounce back to pre-pandemic life expectancy levels.

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