The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States is staggering. As of mid-October 2020, more than 215,000 COVID-19 deaths had occurred, and over 100,000 additional deaths were projected by the end of 2020. An important but as of yet unanswered question concerns the impact of this exceptional number of deaths on life expectancy for the entire nation as well as the consequences for marginalized groups. Despite concerns about inadequate testing and unreliable data, there is convincing evidence that Black and Latino Americans experience a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.
The high death toll and the racial and ethnic inequities in COVID-19 mortality suggest that COVID-19 will have a major impact on 2020 life expectancy, especially for the Black and Latino populations. Life expectancy, a frequently used metric of population health that is typically measured as of birth, is an informative tool for examining the differential impact of COVID-19 on survival, as it is unaffected by the age distribution of the underlying populations. In the period preceding COVID-19, annual improvements in U.S. life expectancy had been small, for example, an increase from 76.8 y to 78.9 y or an average annual increase of 0.15 y between 2000 and 2014, but overall life expectancy has rarely declined.
The expectation that the COVID-19 pandemic will subside with the development of vaccines, treatments, and long-term behavioral changes to reduce exposure, no cohort may ever experience a reduction in life expectancy of the magnitude attributed to COVID-19 in 2020. However, a rapid return to pre-COVID-19 life expectancy is unlikely, due to the anticipated continued presence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, long-term detrimental health impacts for those who recovered from the virus, deaths from other health conditions that were precipitated by COVID-19, and social and economic losses resulting from the pandemic.
This is one study of I’m sure many more to follow and much worth the time to read it! Stay the course, stay well, mask up, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!