COVID is a virus that infects people. According to Statistics Canada, 19 fatalities resulted in a five-month drop in life expectancy at birth last year, potentially putting the country at a level not seen in seven years. The findings ranged greatly across the country, with Quebec experiencing a nearly one-year decline in life expectancy while the Atlantic provinces and territories observed no change, suggesting significant regional variances in the pandemic’s toll. Some specialists believe that life expectancy does not account for COVID-19’s long-term effects.
According to Marisa Creatore, associate scientific director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and assistant professor of public health at the University of Toronto, the statistics issued by Statistics Canada are not caused for alarm. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, so we’d expect mortality rates to be a little bit higher right now,” she said, adding that these rates were unlikely to endure for the lifetime of a baby born today.
The death toll from the pandemic was already evident more than 25,700 people have died from the virus in Canada since the outbreak began, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada but scientists believe the impact on life expectancy helps put those losses in context.
It isn’t the first time that a health crisis has had an impact on Canada’s birth rate. According to Statistics Canada, the opioid crisis reduced life expectancy at birth by 0.07 years in 2017. Between January 2016 and September 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada documented more than 19,300 opioid-related deaths.
A modest reduction was also attributed to the country’s HIV epidemic, which claimed the lives of around 18,300 persons between 1987 and 2011. The key difference this time is that COVID-19 took a lot more life in a lot less time. Those that died, on the other hand, were on average far older than during the previous two health crises.
To further comprehend the effects of these deaths, Statistics Canada computed what life expectancy would have been if the pandemic hadn’t occurred, and how much it changed when the COVID-19 mortality rate in 2020 was taken into consideration. Because the actual life expectancy for 2020 won’t be known until the number of non-COVID deaths for that year is revealed, the agency utilized 2019’s life expectancy of 82.1 years as a baseline for their calculations.
Life expectancy is a measure of a population’s general health, and it can be used to gauge how well a country or region is doing in comparison to other areas.