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COVID-19 has caused a protracted shock to life expectancy levels, leading to global mortality changes unprecedented in the last 70 years, according to research published in Nature Human Behaviour from Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.

Ariel view of a sparse crowd in an urban environment
  • Most of Western Europe experienced at least partial life expectancy bounce-backs in 2021
  • Scale of Eastern Europe losses akin to the mortality crisis at the break-up of the Soviet Union
  • Countries with higher proportions of fully vaccinated people generally experienced smaller life expectancy deficits

Using data from 29 countries in Europe, as well as Chile and the US, the researchers found life expectancy in 2021 remained lower than expected across all 29 countries, had pre-pandemic trends continued.

Previous global epidemics have seen fairly rapid ‘bounce-backs’ to life expectancy levels. But the magnitude and persistence of COVID-19’s impact on mortality has been very different from 'a bad flu'.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website