This post has no direct relation to so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), except that many fans of SCAM and most anti-vaxxers claim that COVID-19 is ‘just a flu’ and therefore should not be taken all that seriously. A little bit of this or that SCAM is surely enough for protecting us, they claim. To all who are of this opinion, I recommend reading this new BMJ paper very carefully.
This analysis aimed at estimating the changes in life expectancy and years of life lost in 2020 associated with the covid-19 pandemic. A time-series analysis was undertaken with the data from 37 upper-middle and high-income countries or regions with reliable and complete mortality data. The annual all-cause mortality data from the Human Mortality Database for 2005-20 were used, harmonized, and disaggregated by age and sex.
The reduction in life expectancy was estimated as the difference between observed and expected life expectancy in 2020 using the Lee-Carter model. Excess years of life lost were estimated as the difference between the observed and expected years of life lost in 2020 using the World Health Organization standard life table.
A reduction in life expectancy in men and women was observed in all the countries studied except New Zealand, Taiwan, and Norway, where there was a gain in life expectancy in 2020. No evidence was found of a change in life expectancy in Denmark, Iceland, and South Korea. The highest reduction in life expectancy was observed in
- Russia (men: −2.33, 95% confidence interval −2.50 to −2.17; women: −2.14, −2.25 to −2.03),
- the United States (men: −2.27, −2.39 to −2.15; women: −1.61, −1.70 to −1.51),
- Bulgaria (men: −1.96, −2.11 to −1.81; women: −1.37, −1.74 to −1.01),
- Lithuania (men: −1.83, −2.07 to −1.59; women: −1.21, −1.36 to −1.05),
- Chile (men: −1.64, −1.97 to −1.32; women: −0.88, −1.28 to −0.50),
- Spain (men: −1.35, −1.53 to −1.18; women: −1.13, −1.37 to −0.90).
Years of life lost in 2020 were higher than expected in all countries except Taiwan, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and South Korea. In the remaining 31 countries, more than 222 million years of life were lost in 2020, which is 28.1 million (95% confidence interval 26.8m to 29.5m) years of life lost more than expected (17.3 million (16.8m to 17.8m) in men and 10.8 million (10.4m to 11.3m) in women). The highest excess years of life lost per 100 000 population were observed in
- Bulgaria (men: 7260, 95% confidence interval 6820 to 7710; women: 3730, 2740 to 4730),
- Russia (men: 7020, 6550 to 7480; women: 4760, 4530 to 4990),
- Lithuania (men: 5430, 4750 to 6070; women: 2640, 2310 to 2980),
- the US (men: 4350, 4170 to 4530; women: 2430, 2320 to 2550),
- Poland (men: 3830, 3540 to 4120; women: 1830, 1630 to 2040),
- Hungary (men: 2770, 2490 to 3040; women: 1920, 1590 to 2240).
The excess years of life lost were relatively low in people younger than 65 years, except in Russia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and the US where the excess years of life lost was >2000 per 100 000.
The authors concluded that more than 28 million excess years of life were lost in 2020 in 31 countries, with a higher rate in men than women. Excess years of life lost associated with the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 were more than five times higher than those associated with the seasonal influenza epidemic in 2015.
I hope (yet, sadly, I am not sure) that this will silence all those who like to claim:
it’s just a flu!