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Life Expectancy in the U.S. Fell Two Years During Pandemic

life expectancy
Life expectancy in the US dropped by two years over the course of the pandemic. Credit: Raimond Spekking, CC BY-SA 4.0

A new report published by the US Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday found that the Covid-19 pandemic lowered Americans’ life expectancy by almost two years.

According to the CDC, the average American person born in 2020 will live to be 77 years old, which is down 1.8 years from the average lifespan projected in 2018.

The report says that Covid-19 is the leading cause of the decline in life expectancy, with the virus now standing at number three after heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death.

“I knew there was going to be a decline, but I didn’t expect it to be this large. For some groups, life expectancy declined three years or more,” Elizabeth Arias, a demographer for the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told the Wall Street Journal.

Males saw the biggest loss, with their average lifespan brought down to 74. An American woman is projected to live until 80 years of age.

Hispanic and black Americans experienced declines in life expectancy of 3 and 2.9 years respectively.

US reports first Omicron death

The US reported its first death this week due to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus as the mutation has now become the dominant one in the country, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.

An unvaccinated man in his 50s succumbed to the fast-spreading disease in Texas, according to a release from Harris County Public Health.

The case was the first known confirmed Omicron-related death in the United States, CNN and other US media outlets reported.

The data shows that Omicron is responsible for 73% of new Covid-19 cases in the country for the week ending on December 18.

The variant took the US by storm, mirroring many predictions made earlier in European countries. Omicron was only found in 12.6% of Covid-19 infections for the week ending December 11.

The strain is even more dominant in specific regions of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast, the Great Lakes, and New England, where rates of Omicron cases clear 90%.

Omicron has taken over Delta, the previous dominant strain. Delta had been dominant for nearly six months.

“All of us have a date with omicron,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The Associated Press. “If you’re going to interact with society, if you’re going to have any type of life, omicron will be something you encounter, and the best way you can encounter this is to be fully vaccinated.”

Lockdowns, travel restrictions due to spread

Now that Omicron has proved exactly how contagious it can be, countries all over the world are tightening measures to mitigate its spread.

In a measure that went into effect on Sunday, travelers to Greece must show a negative rapid test taken within 24 hours of their journey or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their trip, before entering the country.

France and Germany are among other European nations to issue travel restrictions and the Netherlands has imposed a strict lockdown over Christmas.

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