Hundreds of millions of years of life lost to Covid-19, says WHO

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Written by Doug Hampton

(AFP) – The first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic cost almost 337 million years of life, causing the premature death of millions of people, revealed the WHO on Friday.

The World Health Organization thus highlights the devastating impact of the health crisis caused by Covid-19.

In 2020 and 2021 alone, Covid led to the loss of 336.8 million years of life worldwide, according to the Organization.

“It’s like losing 22 years of life for every excess death,” Samira Asma, WHO’s deputy chief for data and analysis, told reporters ahead of the launch.

And this calculation is based on data available in 2022.

Since then, the death toll has continued to climb albeit at a slower pace, prompting the WHO to raise its highest level of health alert, not without warning that the Covid had not gone.

The official death toll attributed to the disease, updated regularly by the WHO, is 6.9 million people as of May 17.

But many countries have not provided reliable data to the WHO, which estimates that the pandemic has claimed nearly three times as many victims in three years, at least 20 million dead.

For this, it relies on the calculation of excess mortality, defined as the difference between the actual number of deaths and the number of deaths estimated in the absence of a pandemic.

These 20 million include direct deaths from Covid but also deaths linked to the impact of the pandemic on health systems.

Friday’s report highlighted that “significant inequalities underlie the distribution of Covid-19 cases and deaths, as well as access to vaccinations.”

The WHO has warned that the pandemic has helped derail many health-related indicators that have been improving for years.

In the first two decades of the century, the world saw significant improvements in maternal and child health, with deaths falling by a third and a half respectively, according to the report. The incidence of infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria has also decreased significantly, as has the risk of premature death from non-communicable diseases.

Together, these factors helped push global life expectancy from 67 years in 2000 to 73 years in 2019.

But after the outbreak of the pandemic, existing inequalities widened, reversing the positive trend for malaria and tuberculosis, among others, notes the WHO.

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