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The US could see a decline of two to three years in life expectancy in 2020 due to the coronavirus, the steepest drop since the second world war and with Covid-19 poised to become the third-leading cause of death in America, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In 2019, life expectancy hit 78.8 years, up 0.1 from 2018, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. The increase stemmed from decreased death rates in heart disease and cancer, the leading and second-leading causes of death in the US. Drug overdose deaths increased after dropping in 2018 but suicides declined for the first time in 14 years.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 190,519 new cases in the US on Monday saw the Covid-19 caseload pass 18m. By Tuesday morning, there had been 319,466 deaths, 1,696 of them on the day before.
For comparison, in 2019 around 659,000 people died of heart disease in America, and around 600,000 from cancer. The third-leading cause of death, accidents, killed around 173,000.
Vaccines are coming on stream, with public figures having shots to encourage widespread take-up, President-elect Joe Biden among them on Monday. Dr Anthony Fauci, the top public health expert, was among those vaccinated on Tuesday.
Amid concern over the new virus variation detected in the UK, US officials sought to assuage fears, saying it should be monitored but its discovery should not be cause for despair.
Health secretary Alex Azar, who was also vaccinated, told Fox News both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines should be effective at preventing illness from the recently discovered variant.
BioNTech chief executive Ugur Sahin told reporters: “Scientifically it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine can also deal with this virus variant.”
Fauci told ABC surveillance was necessary to monitor spread of the British variant, but that officials should not overreact.
“Travel bans are really rather draconian things to do,” he said.
More than 600,000 Americans, mostly healthcare workers, had received their first vaccine doses by Monday, according to the CDC. Some states began vaccinating long-term care facility residents on Monday.
Nonetheless, some models predict a death toll of more than 500,000 by the spring, and more than 5,000 deaths a day.
Robert Anderson, who leads the CDC National Center for Health Statistics mortality-statistics section, told the Journal he used data through August to determine that life expectancy had dropped by approximately 1.5 years.
“We’ve had a lot of deaths added since August, so I think a drop of two to three years for 2020 isn’t out of the question,” he said.
Anderson explained that this would be the greatest decrease since 1943, when fatalities in the second world war led to a 2.9 year decline in life expectancy.
Twenty-five years before that, the Spanish flu resulted in an 11.8-year decline in life expectancy, Anderson said. That sweeping figure stemmed from the fact that virus was especially deadly for children, whose deaths led to a disproportionate decline in life expectancy.
One demographer, Kenneth M Johnson of the University of New Hampshire, reportedly said the pandemic will cause deaths to outpace births in more than 50% of US counties this year – the first time in US history. Such a reversal would come after the US saw its lowest recorded general fertility rate in 2019.
“We’ve got people dying and hospital rooms jammed,” Johnson said. “Who’s going to want to have a baby?”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Covid could shorten US life expectancy by up to three years, experts say | Coronavirus