Global Adult Mortality Rates Increased During COVID-19

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Increase seen during pandemic period, following decrease between 1950 and 2019; child mortality continued to drop during pandemic

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 26, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Global adult mortality rates increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, reversing previous decreasing trends, according to a study published online March 11 in The Lancet.

Austin E. Schumacher, Ph.D., from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, and colleagues examined changes in mortality and life expectancy from 1950 to 2021, with special emphasis on changes that occurred during the 2020 to 2021 COVID-19 pandemic period, using 22,223 data sources.

The researchers found that over the study period, global all-cause mortality followed two distinct patterns: age-standardized mortality rates declined by 62.8 percent between 1950 and 2019, and increased 5.1 percent during the pandemic period. Child mortality continued to decline during the pandemic period, in contrast to the overall reversal in mortality trends, with 4.66 and 5.21 million global deaths among children younger than 5 in 2021 and 2019, respectively. In 2020 and 2021 combined, an estimated 131 million people died globally from all causes, of which 15.9 million were due to the COVID-19 pandemic (measured by excess mortality). In 80 countries and territories, excess mortality rates exceeded 150 deaths per 100,000 population during at least one year of the pandemic, while 20 nations had a negative excess mortality rate in 2020 or 2021. Global life expectancy at birth increased by 22.7 years between 1950 and 2021 (from 49.0 to 71.7 years); between 2019 and 2021, global life expectancy at birth decreased by 1.6 years.

“The comprehensive demographic metrics reported in this study show that marked reversals in adult mortality and life expectancy trends occurred during 2020 and 2021, leading to increased mortality and reduced life expectancy worldwide,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to industry.

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