Over 20.5 million years of life have been lost to COVID-19 across 81 countries, according to a new study published on Feb. 18 in the journal Scientific Reports.
From the total of 20,507,518 years of life lost due to the pandemic in the countries included in the study, 44.9% were from individuals aged between 55 and 75 years old, which indicated the greatest number of years of life lost.
According to the study, 30.2% of the total years of life lost were from individuals younger than 55 years while 25% were from individuals older than 75 years.
The study also found that in wealthier countries, older people made up a larger proportion of years of life lost. Meanwhile, in low- and middle-income countries, individuals aged 55 years or younger made up the larger proportion of years of life lost.
Years of life lost in men were also 44% higher than in women, according to the study. It further said that eliminating the gender gap in years of life lost would require a 34% reduction in male death counts.
“This suggests that gender-specific policies might be equally well justified as those based on age,” the researchers wrote.
The study showed that each individual who died from COVID-19 lost an average of 16 years of life.
The researchers calculated the years of life lost as the difference between the individual’s age of death and the average life expectancy in the country.
“From a public health standpoint, years of life lost is crucial in that it assesses how much life has been cut short for populations affected by the disease,” the researchers wrote.
“Understanding the full health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is critical for evaluating the potential policy responses,” the researchers also said in the study.