In the course of the corona pandemic , the question is often raised of how justified the lockdown measures are. It is also a matter of weighing up the relationship between the losses due to deaths and the economic, psychological and social consequences of the measures. One of the more cynical arguments from critics is that many older Covid-19 patients in particular would not have lived long anyway.
How much life was lost due to premature death?
But what is it about this claim? Researchers working with Hector Pifarre i Arolas from the University of Pompeu in Barcelona have now examined this in detail for the first time. “We calculate how many years of life have been lost in Covid-19 due to premature death,” they explain. “This loss of life years is critical to assessing how much life has been lost in populations from this pandemic.”
For their study, the researchers evaluated more than 1.27 million Covid 19 deaths. These patients had died in 81 countries from the start of the pandemic through January 6, 2021. The scientists compared the age of death of the deceased with the expected natural lifespan on average for this country and year.
To take into account the effect of previous illnesses, they also compared the loss of life with that due to seasonal influenza and heart disease. Because these comparison values are influenced by the same previous illnesses, this allows a relative assessment of the Covid-19 effects.
Died 16 years too early on average.
The evaluation shows: In the course of the corona pandemic, a total of 20.5 million years of life was lost due to premature death – an average of 16 years per Covid-19 patient who died. “That corresponds to the loss of over 270,000 complete lifetimes – of people who would have lived from birth to the natural end of their life,” explain Pifarre i Arolas and his team.
- With reference to Germany only, the Robert Koch Institute recently calculated that a Covid-19 deceased would have had an average of about 10 years to live.
This total number of lost years can be traced back to deaths from different age groups: Almost half of these lost years come from people who died of the corona infection between the ages of 55 and 75. A good 30 percent of the loss of life is due to people under 55 years of age. “In a global comparison, people in their middle of life and in early retirement contribute the largest share of the total years of life lost,” says co-author Mikko Myrskylä from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock.
More than with the flu
In comparison to seasonal influenza and heart disease, the analyzes showed: “In the heavily affected industrialized countries, the loss of life due to Covid-19 is two to nine times higher than with seasonal flu, depending on the country,” the researchers report. In Germany, the loss of years of life due to Covid-19 is around 2.5 times higher than with influenza. In Italy and the USA the value is almost nine times as much. Surf tip: You can find all the latest news about the corona vaccination in the FOCUS Online news ticker
Compared to deaths from heart attacks , strokes and other cardiovascular diseases, the loss of life in the course of the corona pandemic is between a quarter and half. The data also underline that more men die of Covid-19 in the wake of the pandemic, mostly at a younger age than women: “Men have lost 45 percent more years of life than women,” said the scientists.
According to the researchers, these results underscore the great sacrifice the corona pandemic has made due to the deaths that could not be prevented. “Our results confirm that mortality from Covid-19 has a major impact – not only in terms of death rates, but also in terms of the years of life lost,” state Pifarre i Arolas and his colleagues.
The distribution of this loss of life also shows that the younger people in the pandemic are also paying a high price. “This should draw increased attention to the need to protect the young too,” the researchers said. (Scientific Reports, 2021; doi: 10.1038 / s41598-021-83040-3)
Source: Scientific Reports
This article was written by Nadja Podbregar.
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