Covid has cut life expectancy in 4/5ths of industrialised countries and reversed 10 years of progress in lengthening the lives of Britons, according to a significant report that reveals the impact of this pandemic on global health. 

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said Covid ‘contributed, directly and indirectly’ to a 16 per cent rise in average deaths among its 38 member countries. 

The report showed that life expectancy in all 30 countries (80%) has fallen in response to the pandemic. 

The US was the worst affected, as Americans lost 1.6 years per capita. Next came Spain, where it dropped one-and-a half years. Lithuania, Poland, and Belgium also suffered a decline of 1.3 years. Italy and Italy both had 1.2 years.

In the UK, life expectancy dropped by a whole year during the pandemic, with Britons now living to an average age of 80.4 — the lowest figure since 2010.

The results showed that the UK and USA were among the poorest countries in terms of overall life expectancy. The only nations which did not take a hit to life expectancy were Norway, Denmark, Finland and Latvia, as well as Japan and Costa Rica.

According to confirmed Covid deaths in the United States and the UK, they had respectively the 10th- and 11th highest death tolls.

The vast majority of countries have seen their average life expectancy plunge due to the Covid pandemic. The UK falls just below the OECD average to 80.4 years

Covid has caused a drop in life expectancy for many countries. UK’s average life expectancy is 80.4 years, which is just below that of the OECD.

Life expectancy took a hit in 80 per cent of the OECD nations. The US was the biggest loser, shedding 1.6 years of per capita, followed by Spain where it fell one-and-a-half years, Lithuania and Poland (both 1.3years), as well as in Belgium and Italy (1.2)

In 80 percent of the OECD countries, life expectancy fell. US lost the most, losing 1.6 years per capita. Spain suffered a one-and-a half year loss, as did Spain, Lithuania, and Poland, which both fell 1.3 years. Also, it dropped in Italy and Belgium (1.2).

This graph shows the number of confirmed Covid deaths in ,most of the OECD nations and the number of excess deaths recorded at the same time. Due to differences in reporting and availability of diagnostic tools to detect the virus scientists have also used excess deaths as indicator of potential Covid fatalities

This graphic shows the Covid death rate in most OECD countries and how many excess deaths were recorded. Because of differences in the reporting of Covid deaths and lack of available diagnostic tools, scientists also use excess deaths to indicate potential Covid death.

The UK falls below the OECD average in terms of total excess mortality between January 2020 and the end of June 2021 which the report suggests could be due to the sheer volume of testing done in Britain

Between January 2020 and June 2021, the UK has a lower level of excess death than the OECD. This could be because of the large number of tests performed in Britain.

Hungary was the most populous country with a rate around 3,000. The Czech Republic, Brazil and Colombia were close behind at 2,800 and 2,300 respectively. Slovenia and Colombia came in second and third, respectively.

However, when we look at the excess mortality in the pandemic period, the UK is below the OECD median. This could be because of the large number of tests performed in Britain. 

The death rate from any cause increased by 11.7% in the UK between 2020 and 2021, as compared to the average of 2015-2019. 

According to statisticians, the best way to gauge the health effects of a pandemic is to use excess mortality. This accounts for differences in countries as well as knock-on fatalities.

Like the UK other OECD nations experienced a drop in face-to-face GP consultations during the pandemic, falling by 66 per cent in Portugal, 40 per cent in Australia, 18 per cent in Austria and 7 per cent in Norway in May 2020, compared with the same month the year prior

Other OECD members experienced a decline in face to face GP consultations due to the pandemic. They fell by 66%, 44% in Australia, 18% in Austria, and 7% in Norway between May 2018 and the previous year.

In the UK the number of GP appointments taking place face-to-face dropped dramatically at the beginning of the pandemic, as virtual appointments were encouraged in an attempt to keep social mixing low and hospitals virus-free. In-person appointments began to increase last summer, before dropping again during the second wave. Despite being on the rise, the figures are still much lower than pre-pandemic levels

As virtual appointments became more popular in the UK, the amount of face-to-face GP appointments dropped significantly during the first wave of the pandemic. This was because it encouraged social mixing and kept hospitals safe from viruses. The number of in-person visits increased last summer before falling again during the second pandemic. The numbers are not as high as pre-pandemic, but they have been on the rise.

Anxiety and depression has doubled in some countries over the course of the pandemic. Mental health, and the impact of loneliness and isolation, was one of the key concerns during national lockdowns

In some countries, depression and anxiety have increased by more than twofold during the period of the pandemic. National lockdowns were a major concern because of concerns about mental health. 

On average health spending in OECD nations rose during the pandemic while the disruption caused by Covid to economies caused GDP to fall

OECD countries saw an average increase in health spending during pandemics, while their GDP declined due to the disruption caused to the economies by Covid. 

However, even when you consider excess mortality, the US comes in fifth place behind Mexico, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. 

The report showed that the impact of the pandemic was also having an effect on healthcare in general, with people waiting on average for elective procedures up to 88 more days across the OECD than they did before Covid. 

Face-to-face primary care appointments — including GP consultations — have fallen globally by up to 30 per cent in the worst hit countries Spain and Chile.  

According to the report, emergency visits to hospitals dropped by one fifth in the UK in 2020 when compared with previous years. Additionally, separate UK data showed that face-to–face GP appointments were still 21% lower than they were pre-pandemic. 

Due to numerous lockdowns, mental health has suffered as well. Depression rates have increased by more than doubling in the UK and US as well as France.

With just three doctors per 1000 people, the UK had only two and a half beds and only three doctors. Sweden had more beds and Poland had less doctors. 

However, health expenditure in Britain was the largest on the continent as a percentage of income. It rose from 10.2% to 12.8 percent during the pandemic.    

How Sweden’s gamble with lockdown paid off 

According to statistics, Sweden is experiencing fewer Covid-related deaths than other European countries and still has lower rates of infection. This suggests that its lockdown strategy has been successful. 

This year was a notable one for the Scandinavian country, which defied all scientific advice to refuse to follow other countries in closing down their society to stop the spread of the virus.  

Sweden has not only seen its economy rebound faster than other EU countries, but the latest data also shows it fared well in terms of deaths from the pandemic.

According to Our World in Data (Oxford University), Sweden’s Covid death rate has been close to 1,500 per million, which is less than the European average (1 800).

The UK — which has endured three national lockdowns and several regional fire-breakers — has recorded 2,100 per million, for comparison, while Belgium and Italy both have rates above 2,000.

Sweden is just 21st among 31 European countries that have experienced 5 percent more deaths in the pandemic than expected. The average death rate for Covid has been around 10% in Britain, Italy, and Spain.  

According to statisticians, the best way to gauge the health effects of a pandemic is to use excess mortality. This accounts for differences in countries as well as knock-on fatalities.