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Global Life Expectancy Rebounding After COVID-19 Setback: Study

Recent findings published in The Lancet suggest that the global decline in life expectancy triggered by COVID-19 may be reversing, with numbers rebounding to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

KJ Staff
Global Life Expectancy Rebounding After COVID-19 Setback: Study (This image has been created with MidJourney)
Global Life Expectancy Rebounding After COVID-19 Setback: Study (This image has been created with MidJourney)

A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal suggests that the decline in global life expectancy caused by COVID-19 may be reversing. While life expectancy has been on the rise since 1990, a noticeable slump occurred in 2020 following the onset of the pandemic. However, the study reveals that life expectancy numbers have since rebounded, surpassing or returning to 2019 levels from 2022 to 2023.

Moreover, the study forecasts a slower rate of increase in life expectancy compared to previous years, with an expected annual growth of 0.16 years from 2022 to 2050, down from 0.27 years annually recorded between 1990 and 2019. This slowdown is particularly evident in high-income regions, North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania.

In India, it highlights a fluctuation in life expectancy trends. While life expectancy for men and women showed a steady increase from 1990 to 2021, there was a slight decline in 2021 due to the impact of COVID-19, with men's life expectancy dropping to 66 and women's to 71.

The study also offers a glimpse of optimism, projecting a significant increase in global life expectancy by mid-century. By 2050, it is estimated to rise by nearly five years, from 73.6 years in 2022 to 78.1 years. Healthy life expectancy (HALE) is also expected to see growth, increasing by 2.6 years from 64.8 years in 2022 to 67.4 years in 2050.

The anticipated rise in life expectancy is attributed to the effectiveness of public health measures in combating various diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and COVID-19, as well as improvements in survival rates for communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases.

The study also emphasizes a shifting disease burden from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases like heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes, across different locations.

Researchers arrived at these conclusions by analyzing estimates of years lived with disability, disability-adjusted life-years (DALY), and HALE for 204 countries and territories up to 2050. They used data from the 2021 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) estimates, which provide a comprehensive assessment of health trends worldwide, to project disease burden for the coming decades.

In summary, while COVID-19 initially posed challenges to global life expectancy, recent trends suggest a reversal of the decline, offering hope for longer and healthier lives in the future.

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