In a study published in the journal Nature, an international team of scientists analyzed data on deaths from COVID-19 in 81 countries through January 6, 2021. At that time, the number of victims of the pandemic exceeded 1.28 million. These numbers had already increased significantly, but even at that time, the data were incomplete, since in some countries, mortality statistics from coronavirus are underestimated for various reasons, the authors of the study noted.
“Some political decisions (or lack of them) were justified by the fact that COVID-19 mainly kills people who would have only a few years of life left without a pandemic. However, a comprehensive assessment of the true impact of COVID-19 on mortality has not been carried out, “the study authors wrote.
The average number of years lost – that is, the difference between the age of the deceased and the life expectancy – per deceased was 16 years, according to scientists. The worst rates were expected in men: in general, they lost 44% more unlived years compared to women, as they are more susceptible to severe course and death from COVID-19. And while most deaths occur at an average age of 75, nearly a third of deaths were under 55, primarily in low-income countries.
In general, the pandemic took more than 20.5 million years. The authors compared this figure with similar data on deaths from cardiovascular disease, road traffic accidents and seasonal flu. The first two causes of death are the most common worldwide, and the danger of influenza has traditionally been compared to COVID-19.
In developed countries, hard hit by the pandemic, the number of years of life lost due to COVID-19 was 2-9 times more than the flu, and 2 to 8 times more than from car accidents. The number of unlived life years in comparison with cardiovascular diseases in some countries (for example, in certain states of Latin America) turned out to be twice as high.
“Our results support the claim that the true burden of death from COVID-19 is likely to be significantly higher than the official figures,” the study authors said.