Covid has cost Americans 2.5 million years of life, claims Harvard scientist

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Covid has cost Americans 2.5 million years of life, claims Harvard scientist Stephen Elledge.

THE molecular biologist and geneticist calculated life expectancy for more than 200,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19.

And surprising findings revealed the virus has cost Americans 2.5 million years of life – about the same as from six months of cancer deaths.

He also found that half that of the fatalities have been people who died in middle age, not elderly people “who may have died soon anyway”.

“The younger half of that population are losing just as much life as the old people. And they really need to know it,” said the Gregor Mendel Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, both in Boston.

Elledge said the majority of people don’t understand life expectancy, that it doesn’t stay the same from the day you’re born until the day you die.

He added that the longer a person lives, the more likely they are to keep living.

For example, he pointed out a 70-year-old man might have an eight-year life expectancy, but by the time he turns 80, it might still be eight years because he’s avoided many potentially fatal problems.

Younger people don’t die of coronavirus at the same rate as older people, but they do die, said Elledge.

Someone who dies in their 50s, for example, loses two to three decades of life expectancy, he noted.

And people who survive the virus may have long-lasting damage, which can affect lifespan, said Elledge, co-winner of the 2015 Lasker Award, commonly known as the American Nobel.

Elledge said his findings are in line with calculations done earlier in the pandemic when there were less deaths and more of the fatalities were older.

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Tara Rippin

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