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Life Expectancy Reduced Considerably Due to COVID-19

FRIDAY, Jan. 15, 2021 -- The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on life expectancy in the United States, especially among Black and Latino populations, according to a study published online Jan. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Theresa Andrasfay, Ph.D., from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and Noreen Goldman, D.Sc., from Princeton University in New Jersey, estimated the life expectancy at birth and age 65 years for 2020 using four scenarios of deaths, including one in which the COVID-19 pandemic had not occurred and three with COVID-19 mortality projections. Life expectancy was estimated for the total U.S. population and by race and ethnicity.

The researchers found that the medium estimate indicated a 1.13-year reduction in U.S. life expectancy at birth to 77.48 years, which was lower than any year since 2003. A 0.87-year reduction in life expectancy was projected at age 65 years. Declines in life expectancy at birth of 2.10 and 3.05 years, respectively, were estimated for the Black and Latino populations, which were greater than the 0.68-year reduction projected for Whites. These projections indicated a nearly 40 percent increase in the Black-White life expectancy gap, from 3.6 to 5.0 years, which would eliminate progress made in closing this gap since 2006. Latinos would see their more than three-year survival advantage over Whites reduced to less than one year.

"The generally good health of Latinos prior to the pandemic, which should have protected them from COVID-19, has laid bare the risks associated with social and economic disadvantage," Goldman said in a statement.

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