The Covid-19 pandemic reduced life expectancy of men and women in 27 countries in 2020, according to a study by Oxford University published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on Sunday. This is the biggest decrease in life expectancy among humans since World War II.

“The fact that our results highlight such a large impact that is directly attributable to Covid-19 shows how devastating a shock it has been for many countries,” said Dr Ridhi Kashyap, co-lead author of the paper, Reuters reported.

The Oxford University researchers analysed 29 countries across Europe and the American continent. They examined data of life expectancy at birth and at the age of 60 for 2020 and compared it to data of the same parameters from 2015 to 2019.

In 22 countries, life expectancy in 2020 fell by six months compared to 2019, according to the study. Women from 15 countries and men from 10 countries ended up with lower life expectancy at birth in 2020 than in 2015.

Life expectancy of men in the United States dropped by 2.2 years compared to the figures of 2019, when the average period was 78.8 years. In Lithuania, life expectancy dropped by 1.7 years for men relative to 2019 figures, when the average period was 76.13 years.

Life expectancy at birth reduced by 1.5 years among men in Bulgaria and Poland and in women in United States and Spain.

In the United States, increased mortality was observed among people who were working and under the age of 60. In Europe, deaths of people over the age of 60 contributed to the mortality rate.

The researchers also took into account the limitations faced by them due to under-registration of deaths.

“For official Covid-19 mortality figures, there are likely to be inaccuracies due to differences in classification and testing practices across countries,” the study said.

Thus, the researchers said that the results have to be interpreted with caution as they have not been able to measure the inaccuracies in the number of deaths.

The researchers from Oxford University have requested low-and middle-income countries to release mortality data for further studies, Reuters reported.

As many as 23.18 crore people have been affected by coronavirus, of which 47.48 lakh people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.