Story at a glance

  • The study found those who died from COVID-19 lost more than 10 years of their life on average.
  • Men lost about 13 years of potential life, while women lost about 11 years.
  • The estimates account for underlying health conditions.

A new study using a statistical measure called “years of life lost” (YLL) found that on average, those who died from COVID-19 lost more than a decade of their life to the disease. 

The recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, which has yet to be peer reviewed, found that the average male who died from COVID-19 lost about 13 years of potential life, while women who died from the coronavirus lost about 11 years. 


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Researchers used the statistical measurement “years of life lost,” which is an estimate of the average number of years a person would have lived if he or she had not died prematurely from a health event like COVID-19 infection. The estimates account for age, sex and underlying health conditions. 

“YLL is a common, widely adopted public health statistic to assess the number of years lost due to premature mortality. It’s used to assess resource allocation for research and health care delivery,” John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, told ABC News.

David McAllister, senior clinical lecturer and lead researcher of the study, and his colleagues conducted the study to test the assumption that those who were dying from COVID-19 would have died soon regardless of their infection, according to ABC News. 

The researcher said his findings suggested coronavirus has similar long-term effects as heart disease. 


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“Among people dying of COVID-19, the number of years of life lost per person appear similar to diseases such as coronary heart disease,” McAllister said according to ABC. 

While COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says adults 65 years and older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness. 

More than 4.1 million COVID-19 infections have been recorded since the outbreak began late last year, with more than 283,000 deaths around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data.


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Published on May 11, 2020