Covid is already ahead of other common causes of premature death

Just as important as knowing how many people have died from covid is knowing how many have died ahead of time. It is an essential parameter to understand the dimension of the pandemic and to be able to mitigate its effects.

Before COVID, the leading causes of anticipated deaths were cardiovascular disease, seasonal flu, and traffic accidents. Now, so is the virus, with a huge impact.

The coronavirus has lost at least 20.5 million years of life to deceased people

An international study led by UPF’s Center for Health and Economics Research (CRES) and in which the Max Planck Institute and the Universities of Wisconsin-Madison, Oxford and Helsinki have participated, shows that in In the most developed countries, the anticipated deaths from covid are between two and nine times higher than those from seasonal flu, between two and eight times more than traffic accidents and also account for between a quarter and a half of those caused by illnesses cardiac.

The study has been carried out in 81 countries and the total number of deaths was taken as the one that existed on January 6: 1,279,866.


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These dead, and this is another essential figure of the study, have stopped living 20.5 million years. These are the years of life that have been lost with the covid. They correspond to 373,947 complete lives, from birth to a mean age of death of 74.85 years.

Héctor Pifarré, director of CRES, considers that “our estimates are conservative. The impact must still be greater than that reflected in the study because we do not have an approved international system to count the deaths of the covid, and it is impossible to determine the causes of the deaths that have occurred outside the hospitals ”. During the most critical moments of the pandemic, when the health system was under maximum stress, there was a deficit of diagnoses. It was not possible to diagnose many diseases because efforts were made to combat covid, and this is another factor that explains that the impact of the death may be even greater than that reflected in the study.

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Celeste Lopez

A woman receives the covid-19 vaccine. # {Emoji} 13;  JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA # {emoji} 13;  02/12/2021

Covid, and this is another conclusion, affects men more than women, even after adjusting the parameters to their traditional shorter life expectancy. Men die younger and younger. For every woman who dies, 1.39 men die. Consequently, they have lost 45% more years of life than they. The average age of a man who dies from covid is 71.3 years, and of a woman is 75.9, almost four years more.

As it was already known, the covid causes more mortality among the elderly, but it is those who die young who lose more years of life. Of the 20.5 million years lost, approximately 85% correspond to people who died when they were less than 75 years old. This data, as Pifarré points out, is important for designing health strategies that also focus on younger people. Furthermore, in the countries with lower incomes, the percentage of young people who died is higher than that of the elderly, when in the richest countries it is the other way around.

The study has been carried out based on the official death count in each of the 81 countries investigated and comparing them with the mortality rates of previous years. Thus it has been possible to establish the excess of deaths during the pandemic.

The study does not address an unstudied consequence of the pandemic: the chronic effects it causes. The quality of life from now on that the survivors will have is unknown. And not only for people who have overcome the covid, but for those who, without suffering it, have suffered, for example, depression and other mental illnesses.

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