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Despite the availability of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine, so many people died in the second year of the epidemic in the United States that the country’s life expectancy dropped for the second year in a row last year, according to a new analysis.
An analysis of the Provisional Government’s statistics shows that the US lifespan has dropped to less than half a year in 2021, with a dramatic reduction in life expectancy in 2020. Public health experts hoped that the vaccines would prevent a further decline next year.
Dr. Steven Wolf, professor of population health and health equity at Virginia Commonwealth University, said, “Instead, we have a terrible loss of life in 2021 that actually shortens life expectancy compared to 2020. It’s very worrying.” , Who helps to conduct the analysis. “It speaks to the massive loss of life in 2021.”
Wolf says many deaths occur in people early in their lives and overall U.S. life expectancy has dropped to 76.6 years – the lowest in at least 25 years.
“It’s a shame for the United States,” said Princeton University demographer Narine Goldman, who was not involved in the study. “It simply came to our notice then that we were in for a rude awakening.
The 2021 drop came after the U.S. life expectancy dropped in 2020, to almost two years – the biggest one-year decline in U.S. life expectancy since at least World War II.
“The motivation for this study was to determine whether we resolved the horrendous drop in life expectancy recorded in 2020 by 2021 or recovered in 2021 or continued to decline. Unfortunately, we did not receive good news,” Wolf told NPR in an interview.
Surprisingly, although the decline in life expectancy in 2020 hit Blacks and Hispanics the hardest, it was not in 2021, the analysis found. Between 2020 and 2021, the life expectancy of Hispanics has not changed significantly, and the life expectancy of blacks has actually increased slightly – by less than half.
In contrast, the life expectancy of whites decreased by about one-third a year, mostly among white men.
“So what it tells us is that this continuous decline in life expectancy that we see in the second year is largely driven by the death of the white population,” Wolf said.
It’s not clear why this happened, but Wolfe and others think it could be because whites are more likely to live in a state with fewer restrictions, so they lower their guard further, often refusing to be vaccinated.
“The deaths that occurred in 2021 were not only a product of a lack of vaccination, which was a huge cause, but also of places that did not adhere to the principles of masking and social distance that prevent viral infections,” Wolf said. .
As the declining lifespan of 2020 has hit blacks and Latinos much harder, they have lost even more space overall in the two years since the epidemic began. Hispanics have lost about four years and blacks about three years, less than two years compared to whites.
The 2021 drop has also widened the life expectancy gap between the US and other rich countries, the analysis found. This was primarily due to lower vaccination rates in the United States, researchers say.
According to the analysis, in countries like England, France and Germany, life expectancy decreased by almost half a year in 2020 and then actually increased by one third in 2021. So the gap between the United States and those countries has widened from three years in 2019 to more than five years in 2021.
Researchers say a large part of this is due to lower epidemic restrictions in the United States and more hesitation about vaccinations, leading to lower vaccination rates and higher mortality rates. They say the prevalence of other health problems, such as diabetes and obesity, has also played a role.
“We spend a fortune on medical care and we are a high-income country. We should be able to do better,” Goldman said.