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Technology The 'shocking' impact of COVID-19: Americans, young and old, have lost 2.5 million years of life, Harvard researcher says

05:15  21 october  2020
05:15  21 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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The COVID - 19 outbreak affects all segments of the population and is particularly detrimental to That is, they provide basic income security at all times, thereby enhancing people’s capacity to manage and overcome shocks . Older persons are particularly susceptible to the risk of infection from COVID - 19

COVID - 19 : What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 28 September. However, with more than 2 million confirmed cases impacting countries around the world, the Responding to the COVID - 19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and

Stephen Elledge was upset.

A world-class molecular biologist and geneticist, Elledge felt like people were ignoring an important aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic. They kept talking about how the only people dying were old and would have died soon anyway.

So Elledge, a scientist to his bones, decided to run some numbers.

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Elledge calculated life expectancy for more than 200,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19 and made two surprising findings: COVID-19 has cost Americans 2.5 million years of life – about as much as from six months of cancer deaths. And roughly half that loss has come from people who died in middle age, not their waning years. 

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a man standing in front of a window: Harvard geneticist Stephen Elledge was upset by how casually people dismissed those who died of COVID-19 © Emmanuel Ording Harvard geneticist Stephen Elledge was upset by how casually people dismissed those who died of COVID-19

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

Most people don’t understand life expectancy, he said. It doesn’t stay the same from the day you’re born until the day you die.

The longer you live, the more likely to you are to keep living. 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 skated past a lot of the problems that would have killed him earlier.

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NHS guidance says 30% of Covid - 19 survivors may suffer long-term lung harm. COVID - 19 is caused by a virus which mainly attaches to and attacks cells in the lining of the airways and Dr Hilary Floyd told The Telegraph she was shocked by just how young many patients were, revealing some

Where is Covid - 19 spreading the fastest? The US has recorded more than seven million cases Vaccine development normally takes years but because of the global emergency, scientists are The WHO has said it does not expect to see widespread vaccinations against Covid - 19 until the middle of

Younger people don’t die of COVID-19 at the same rate as older people, but they do die. 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.

“You’re pushing your age forward,” he said. “All the people who make it through, who knows what’s going to happen to them when they get older.”

Elledge who normally studies things like how DNA responds to damage, wrote up his ideas using simple calculations and posted them online. He hopes to get them published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal some time soon.

He said his findings are in line with calculations done earlier in the pandemic, when deaths were fewer and more of the dead were older. 

Mostly, he said, he wants to bring attention to the fact that those dying from COVID-19 shouldn’t be written off. Most weren’t on death’s door, he said, and each death causes a ripple effect of grief and loss.  

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Covid - 19 restrictions could be particularly devastating for Africa. In July, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that “the repercussions of the pandemic are causing more A study published in The Lancet found that the impact of lockdowns and other pandemic mitigation measures could lead

COVID - 19 : examining theories for Africa’s low death rates. The gap between predictions of Masking up is one way to cut down on risk of COVID - 19 infection. Alex Brandon/Getty Images News via Older coronavirus patients face grimmer outlooks. A virologist explains the aging-related changes in how

Letting the virus widely infect younger people, as suggested by those who advocate herd immunity through natural infection, would be devastating — for the people directly affected and for the country as a whole, he said. 

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While Elledge said he's worried about the winter months, he believes, of course, that scientifically-backed public health measures will help.    

"If you do it right," he said, "you’re safe.”

Contact Karen Weintraub at kweintraub@usatoday.com

Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The 'shocking' impact of COVID-19: Americans, young and old, have lost 2.5 million years of life, Harvard researcher says

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