Life expectancy in the United States fell a year and a half in 2020, mainly due to the increase in the number of deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday. .
The agency released the figures as part of an interim report on the evolution of mortality that it publishes each year. While the numbers are to be finalized by the CDC, the drop is believed to be the largest in a single year since World War II and reflects the long toll the pandemic will have on the country even after the country reopens.
“Mortality from COVID-19 had, by far, the greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020,” the report said.
The one-and-a-half-year figure is an average for the whole country, but several demographic groups have seen larger declines. Hispanics saw their life expectancy drop by 3 years and black Americans saw their life expectancy drop by 2.9 years. Among white Americans, the decline was 1.2 years.
Other causes contributing to the decline in life expectancy in 2020 include injuries, homicides and diabetes, the report notes.
Dr Elizabeth Arias, a CDC researcher who worked on the report, said the decline actually meant the country had lost a full decade of improved life expectancy.
“Life expectancy has been increasing gradually every year for several decades,” Arias told Reuters. “The drop between 2019 and 2020 was so big that it brought us back to where we were in 2003. It’s like we lost a decade.”
In February, Arias pointed out that preliminary figures showed the coronavirus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color and the CDC itself said many racial and ethnic minorities were at greater risk of becoming ill and dying from COVID-19.
And the pandemic is not over. Cases are increasing in all states across the country, mainly due to the delta variant of the virus, a highly transmissible strain that now accounts for 83% of new cases in the United States. Almost all of the deaths in the country, however, are among those that go unvaccinated. .
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