According to a report the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published on Wednesday, the US life expectancy in 2020 was decreased by a year and a half to 77.3 years, mainly due to the deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that contributed with nearly three-fourths, or over 74%, of the decline, Reuters reports.
The CDC report explains that the decline in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 can primarily be attributed to 375,000 deaths from the Covid pandemic that accounted for nearly 75% of the decline.
More than 609,000 Americans have died in the pandemic so far.
The report presents updated estimates of life expectancy based on provisional mortality data for the full year, January through December 2020, with the estimates based on death certificates received, processed, and coded, but not finalized, by the National Vital Statistics System (NCHS).
The CDC informs that it’s the biggest one-year decline since WW2 when life expectancy fell 2.9 years between 1942 and 1943, and is six months shorter than its February 2021 estimate.
According to the report, drug overdose deaths- that reach a record high of 93,331 or nearly 30% increase in 2020 – were also a major contributor in the decline. CDC report on that subject last week also reflected Covid-19 toll on the opioid crisis and the proliferation of fentanyl in the illegal narcotic supply.
Elizabeth Arias, a CDC researcher who worked on the report, told Reuters that life expectancy has been increasing gradually every year for the past several decades but that the decline between 2019 and 2020 took Americans to the 2003 levels, as if they essentially lost a decade.
The latest CDC report also show that racial, gender and ethnic disparities worsened during the analyzed period: life expectancy for Hispanic people fell three years in 2020, from 81.8 years in 2019 to 78.8 years. Hispanic males saw the largest drop of 3.7 years to 75.3.
A decline of 2.9 years to 71.8 was recorded among Black people, while life expectancy among white people dropped 1.2 years, from 78.8 years 77.6. Disparity in life expectancy between men and women also widened in 2020, with women now expected to live 80.2 years, or 5.7 years longer than men – six months more than foreseen in 2019.
According to Anne Case, a professor emeritus of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, the data was not entirely unexpected given what has already been seen about mortality rates as the pandemic went on, per the Washington Post.