Coronavirus Pandemic

Life Expectancy Fell Sharply in US Last Year Among High-Income Countries

Russia was the only country that had a steeper drop in 2020, a study of death date spanning several continents found

Empty hospital bed.
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The United States had the second-steepest decline in life expectancy among high-income countries last year during the pandemic, according to a study of death data spanning several continents

The only country studied that saw a starker overall trend was Russia.

The study, published Wednesday in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), assessed premature death in 37 countries, comparing observed life expectancy in 2020 with what would have been expected for the year based on historical trends from 2005-2019. Life expectancy dropped in 31 of these countries during the pandemic. 

One surprise: The drop in life expectancy in the U.S. was driven by the deaths of young people, said Dr. Nazrul Islam, a researcher at the University of Oxford and the study’s lead author. 

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The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is now over 675,000, surpassing the 1918 flu as the deadliest pandemic in the nation's history. The record comes as leaders are pleading with unvaccinated adults to get their shots, while already vaccinated adults are wondering about booster shots to boost their immune response. Dr. Alok Patel weighs in.
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