In the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was seen that it was mostly the aged that were at a higher risk of mortality upon contracting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Hence many of the elderly perished in the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 especially in the United States and Europe.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Annals of Internal Medicine.
In the United States, 20.8% more COVID-19–involved deaths were reported in the first 10 months of the pandemic compared with a seasonally matched interval in the pandemic’s second year. Despite this, 7.4% more years of life were lost in the second pandemic year during that interval due to a 35.7% increase in YLL per COVID-19 death.
Further investigation should determine the extent to which this downward age shift in COVID-19 mortality is attributable to high early-pandemic COVID-19 death rates among older adults (for example, involving nursing homes and long-term care facilities), relatively higher vaccine coverage and adherence with nonpharmaceutical interventions among older versus younger adults later in the pandemic, age-related risk differences associated with coronavirus variant viruses, or other mechanisms.
Analysis of YLL reveals additional changes among the leading causes of U.S. death. The YLL and deaths due to Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases both decreased, perhaps due to early-pandemic increased incidence of each due to misattribution of COVID-19 deaths when there was limited testing and considerable COVID-19–related missed medical care.
Conversely, YLL and deaths due to unintentional injuries increased considerably, owing in part to record-high drug overdose deaths, up 15% (nearly 14 000 deaths) in 2021 compared with 2020 (5).
Strengths of this analysis include use of national mortality data and age-specific projected standard life expectancies to estimate YLL. Limitations include provisional 2021 deaths, which are subject to reporting lags. Importantly, the YLL metric compares a person’s life expectancy with their age at the time of their death and should not be used as a measure of a person’s potential contributions to society.
In conclusion, a shift in COVID-19 mortality to relatively younger people in the second pandemic year contributed to markedl