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Covid-19 could lead to longer life expectancy and fewer deaths

The global pandemic that we are living through now could spell longer life expectancy for all of us, a mortality expert has suggested.

It is a counterintuitive prediction, but we could all live on average four months longer and suffer 660,000 fewer deaths nationally in one scenario.

This is according to Charlie Finch, a partner at actuarial firm Lane, Clark and Peacock, who specialises in pensions and lifespan forecasting.

The prediction is modelled on a combination of vaccine advancements, improvements in medical care and changes to the way we live and work that are all due to the pandemic.

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Longer Life Expectancy

Finch said: “The NHS is always trying to prolong life, so people living longer with a higher quality of life is great.

“If that’s the outcome from COVID-19, that’s actually a fantastic silver lining of the whole thing.”

The prediction comes from Lane, Clark and Peacock’s Longevity Report, an annual report which analyses various future scenarios based on statistics from the Office of National Statistics.

Although it is very hard to predict the future, the Longevity Report lays out five scenarios of varying severity and Finch emphasised that the most optimistic one is entirely realistic.

He added: “We may get a situation where there’s minimal deaths from COVID-19 in the future – if it doesn’t mutate. And then you say, well actually, if we’re not getting deaths from COVID-19, what else might happen?

“Chronic respiratory diseases are one of the biggest causes of death, partly due to pollution.”

But in a post-pandemic world, there may be more working from home, less transport use and less air pollution.

Coupled with advancements in vaccine technology, the long-term outcomes could be beneficial to lifespans Finch explained.

‘Excess deaths’

One measure to try to get a clearer view of the death toll caused by Covid-19 is to look at the number of deaths in 2020 and 2021.

Comparing these figures to average deaths over the previous five years gives us a number referred to as ‘excess deaths’.

While excess deaths spiked at 10,000 more than average in the first week of May 2020, Finch expects that going forward we could see a reduction in average deaths each year of 20,000, giving each of us a longer life expectancy of four months on average.

Finch explained: “Cancer is the biggest killer at the current time in the UK, but we’ve made huge leaps forward in the last year in terms of the vaccine research and the effectiveness of vaccines.

“And that’s not just applicable to COVID but it’s also applicable to a wide range of other diseases, even to things like cancer.”

The past year has been a very tough time for the world, is the message, but the lessons learned in terms of scientific advancement and public health and preparedness should see us in good stead going forward.

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