COVID-19 cuts India's life expectancy by 2 years, says study
COVID-19 reduced life expectancy in India by two years in 2020, a study found. The study also found that the COVID-19 death toll was the highest among men in the 35-79 age group. The study was conducted by researchers from the International Institute for Population Studies (IIPS) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). It was published in the peer-reviewed journal 'BMC Public Health' on Thursday.
- The study shows that the two-year drop in India's life expectancy can be attributed to excess COVID-19 deaths in the 35-79 age group.
- The pandemic's impact on India's life expectancy was in the middle range compared to other countries, it said.
- Experts argued that a two-year decline was high unless COVID-19 mortalities have been underreported in India.
Life expectancy at birth for men declined from 69.5 years to 67.5 years between 2019 and 2020. It declined from 72 years to 69.8 years for women. The COVID-19 death toll was the highest among men aged 35-79 years. Comparatively, life expectancy for the United States dropped by one year, England and Wales by two years, and Spain by 2.2 years.
According to official figures, 4.5 lakh people died of COVID-19 in India, marking a case fatality rate of 1.32%. However, experts believe millions have died in India due to COVID-19. An expert anonymously told The Times of India, "If the case fatality rate was higher at 3% or more, as suggested by individual statisticians, only then does the drop (in life expectancy) seem fine."
COVID-19 has "wiped out" last decade's progress in increasing the life expectancy of India, lead author Suryakant Yadav of the IIPS told TOI. Epidemics in the past have impacted life expectancy but it always recouped, IIPS Director KS James added. Speaking to Hindustan Times, Yadav said the gender discrepancy in deaths could be because "men were exposed more to the external factors."
India reported 16,326 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, taking the total caseload to 3,41,59,562. The single-day death toll rose to 666. The spike in deaths can be attributed to Kerala updating its backlog of 563 fatalities. India has also administered one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Over 22% of India's total population has been fully vaccinated, while 53% has received at least one dose.