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Life expectancy rises in parts of Europe as U.S. still trends down post-COVID-19: Study

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Life expectancy rates started to rebound last year in multiple countries throughout Europe following their COVID-19-era dip in 2020, according to a new study.

The study, titled “Life expectancy changes since COVID-19” and published Monday in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, looked at life expectancy rates for 29 countries that included most of Europe, the U.S. and Chile.

Researchers found that eight countries made significant strides in improving their life expectancy during 2021, including Belgium, England, France, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales.

But a large number of countries in Eastern Europe — such as Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary — were found to share in the U.S.’ struggles (third-largest decline overall) with improving life expectancy deficits. Germany, Scotland and Northern Ireland in Western Europe also saw a downward trend in the metric, albeit at less severe rates.

The study said that a lack of vaccination, especially in those under 60 years old, is thought to have contributed to some countries’ declining life expectancy. It also suggested that the U.S.’ life expectancy rate will continue its slump.

“Everyone was hit in 2020 … 2020 was about policy response and 2021 becomes a story of vaccination, and the U.S. was not a success story,” Theresa Andrasfay, a gerontology scholar at the University of Southern California who is not affiliated with the study, told USA Today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in August that the life expectancy for women had dropped from 79.9 years in 2020 to 79.1 in 2021. American men lost a full year between 2020 and 2021, going from 74.2 years (2020) to 73.2 the following year.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.



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