Life expectancy in US drops for 1st time since WWII, Covid-19 said to be to blame

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The impact of Covid in the first six months of 2020 cut a year off the life expectancy of Americans, according to data released on Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the biggest drop since WWII.

From January to June last year, life expectancy for the total US population was 77.8 years, down from 78.8 in 2020.

The CDC data showed a decline for men to 75.1 years from 76.3 years, while women could also expect to live almost a year less, going from 81.4 years to 80.5.




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Minorities were hardest hit, with the life expectancy for black Americans falling from 74.7 years to 72, while it dropped by almost two years for Hispanic Americans (81.8 years to 79.9). The agency estimates compared the first six months of 2020 to all of 2019.

 “This is a huge decline,” said Robert Anderson from the CDC. “You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.”

Health statisticians had already known 2020 was the worst year for deaths in US history, with more than three million dying there – Covid has killed almost half a million so far – but the new data shows the impact of the virus on deaths from other conditions, like heart disease and cancer.

“What is really quite striking in these numbers is that they only reflect the first half of the year,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a health equity researcher at the University of California. “I would expect that these numbers would only get worse.”

It’s the first time the CDC has released life expectancy information based on six months of data.

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