More than 2.5 million years of life have been lost in the United States due to the coronavirus and each person who had a Covid-19-associated death lost over 13 years, according to a preprint study posted Tuesday on MedRxiv.
MedRxiv is a preprint server, which means that the study has not year been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal.
“In this study I have attempted to quantify the extent of life lost so far in this pandemic as of October 3, 2020 where data for the age and sex distribution of over 194,000 Covid-19 associated deaths was available,” said the preprint, authored by Stephen Elledge, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
These calculations reveal a profound loss of life as measured in person-years of almost 2.5 million person-years as of early October 2020 in the United States.”
Elledge found that a total of 2,572,102 years of life were lost due to 194,087 deaths. Breaking it down by gender, men lost 1,461,662 years from 104,896 deaths and females lost 1,110,440 years from 89,191 deaths.
Each person lost, on average, 13.25 life years per Covid-19 associated death. Males lost slightly more years of life at 13.93 compared with females losing 12.45.
He also found that “a significant proportion of deaths due to Covid-19 occur in individuals in their 40s, 50s and 60s who had dozens of years of expected life ahead of them.”
To work out the number of years of life lost, Elledge used data from the Social Security Administration to look at normal life expectancies, and data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Covid-19 deaths per 10-year age group.
The study comes to similar conclusions as others that looked at life years lost, it says, although previous studies project slightly fewer years lost per death, which could be to do with the method of analysis or the fact that they were conducted earlier in the pandemic.
Elledge wrote that his research has potential sources of error, such as the distribution of deaths within 10-year spans provided by the CDC, the lack of distribution of ethnicities in fatality data and the effect of comorbidities on life expectancy of Covid-19 deaths.