In places with high life expectancy, such as Brazil and the United States, a percentage above 2% of the population infected with covid-19 may already be able to break a historic growth trend in this indicator, in which as the years go by , the longer people tend to live.
So says a study published this Thursday (17/9) in the journal PLOS ONE, which combined in a mathematical model data of the probability of becoming infected and dying from Covid-19 within a year in different age groups, in addition to figures on other causes of mortality and life expectancy in four major regions of the world.
With the new disease, a decline in life expectancy is expected at least in the short term in several countries, especially those with the longest life expectancy, in Europe and North America; and particularly in specific locations strongly affected by the disease, such as New York, in the USA, and Bergamo, in Italy.
According to the publication, a prevalence (share of infected people in relation to the total population) of 10% could lead to a loss of one year in life expectancy in Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
For such a loss to occur in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a prevalence of 15% and 25%, respectively, would be required. The impact is less in places with lower life expectancy because, in them, survival at older ages is already lower.
With a 50% prevalence of covid-19 in the population within a year, life expectancy could drop from 3 to 9 years in North America and Europe; 3 to 8 years in Latin America and the Caribbean; from 2 to 7 years in Southeast Asia; and 1 to 4 years in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Europe took almost 20 years for the average life expectancy at birth to grow by six years – from 72.8 years in 1990 to 78.6 years in 2019. The covid-19 may bring this indicator back to values some time ago “says one of the study’s authors, Sergei Scherbov, of the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital, at the University of Vienna, Austria.
He signs the work with Guillaume Marois, from the Asian Demographic Research Institute, at the University of Shanghai, China; and Raya Muttarak, from the University of East Anglia, in the United Kingdom.
“However, we are not sure what will happen yet. In many countries the lethality of covid-19 is decreasing sharply, probably because the treatment protocol has been better defined”, ponders Sherbov on the possibility of the scenarios being confirmed over time or not.
In the last century, life expectancy has grown significantly in various parts of the world.
This is one of the indicators included in the Human Development Index (HDI) account and is influenced by social, economic conditions, and access to education and health.