A new study from the Australian National University (ANU) has found that life expectancy in Australia has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ANU team, which completed the study at Oxford University last year and supplemented data from Australia, compared relative life expectancy across countries before and after the start of the pandemic.
Their study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that Australian life expectancy increased by 0.7 years between 2019 and 2020 for women and men. The researchers say this is the biggest increase seen in Australia since the 1990s. They also found that survival rates increased about the same across the country, with New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria increasing life expectancy by about six months.
The increase in life expectancy in 2020 puts Australia in first place among other countries. The next largest increases were Denmark and Norway, both with increases of 0.1 and 0.2 years for girls and boys, respectively. On the other hand, the United States saw a downward trend, with average life expectancy falling by -1.7 and -2.2 years for women and men, respectively.
The researchers said that despite the stress of wildfires and the start of the coronavirus pandemic, life expectancy has increased due to border closures and quarantines. Fewer common infections were reported in 2020, with pneumonia and flu deaths down 20%. The number of deaths on the roads has also decreased due to the fact that people were forced to stay at home.
Tim Driscoll of the University of Sydney’s Sydney School of Public Health said the results of the study are interesting given the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on Australian society. He said the real concern is the number of illnesses that may not have been detected in the past two years, given the number of people who are expected to avoid hospitals and have fewer family doctor visits to avoid contracting COVID-19.
In contrast, medical communities noticed that the people are not going to the doctor because of the fear of Covid-19.” Many of them are concerned about the cancer community that people do not see a doctor because of anxiety, and also because they do not participate in screening events.
But Professor Driscoll said it remains to be seen how much-reduced doctor visits could affect life expectancy over the next few years. He also said that since 2020, new COVID variants of Delta and Omicron have increased the number of cases and deaths from the viruses, further weakening the healthcare system.
Professor Driscoll added that the results also do not indicate the well-being of society as a whole, despite the fact that they showed that blocks have some advantages. A major concern during the pandemic has been its impact on mental health, but Prof Driscoll said that is hard to determine with statistics. After all, he said that life expectancy is not the only measure of health.