According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, life expectancy in the US declined by a year during the first half of 2020, to the lowest level in 15 years, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The study released Thursday by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics shows that life expectancy at birth fell by one year from 2019 to 77.8 years, the lowest since 2006, USA Today announced.
“These numbers are horrifying, but not unexpected,” population health expert Dr. Alexander C. Tsai told UPI.
“The last time [life expectancy] was 77.8 years was about a decade and a half ago, so that’s a lot of progress in public health that was erased in just six months,” said Tsai, a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with the Center for Global Health.
The decline was even higher among blacks, whose life expectancy fell by 2.7 years to 72 years, and Latinos, who suffered the second-largest drop by dropping 1.9 years to 79.9 years, according to the study.
For men, life expectancy decreased from 76.3 years over the same period to 75.1 years, while it decreased from 81.4 years for women to 80.5 years, as per CDC data.
But, according to Michal Engelman, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the US has suffered a backslide due to the pandemic.
“For a while, this was an issue of concern that we weren’t making progress and we were sliding backwards a little bit,” Engelman told the newspaper. “After a few years of worrisome declines, it was only in the first half of 2020 that we dropped the whole year as a country.”
According to USA Today, health experts are worried that life expectancy will be lower than the half-year estimates in all of 2020 because they do not reflect the fall and winter spikes that led to record deaths from the pandemic.