US life expectancy sees biggest decline since World War II

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The decline in life expectancy means that a baby born in the first half of 2020 can expect to live 77.8 years, down from 78.8 years in 2019. "This is a huge decline", Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC, told The Associated Press.

As vaccines continue to be administered, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect countries around the globe, with the number of confirmed cases worldwide now surpassing 110 million, with over 2,432,000 deaths worldwide, with the United States having the most confirmed cases and deaths in the world.

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The only good news in the report is that life expectancy typically bounces back quickly, because of the way it is calculated. It had already been known that 2020 was the deadliest year in US history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time.

Between 2014 and 2017 - a peak period of the opioid epidemic - life expectancy declined a third of a year, which itself was significant. Meanwhile, white Americans lost less than a year (from 78.8 to 78.0), according to the report. For females, it dropped 0.9 years, from 81.4 years to 80.5.

The pandemic has also reversed decades of effort to narrow the life expectancy gap between Black and White Americans. Life expectancy for Black Americans dropped a stunning 2.7 years, to 72 years old, reversing a 27-year gradual closure of the gap between white and Black life expectancy. The preliminary report did not analyze trends for Asian Americans or Native Americans. Health experts said that when the coronavirus pandemic subsides in the United States they expect that to occur.

Worldwide, the pandemic has infected more than 110 million people.

Because males as well as black and Hispanic people are more likely to have deaths related to the virus, it would help explain why life expectancy rates fell dramatically in these populations.

Dr. Otis Brawley, a cancer specialist and public health professor at Johns Hopkins University, agreed.

More than 81,000 fatalities occurred in the 12-month period ending in May 2020, a almost 20 percent rise from the 12-month period ending in June 2019, according to an advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Overall, the drop in life expectancy is more evidence of "our mishandling of the pandemic", Brawley said.

As a result, the authors write, "life expectancy at birth for the first half of 2020 may be underestimated since the populations more severely affected, Hispanic and non-Hispanic black populations, are more likely to live in urban areas".

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