CDC reveals surprising surge in US life expectancy! Is COVID-19 finally losing its grip?

Visual Representation for life expectancy
Visual Representation for life expectancy

United States: Life expectancy at birth recovered by a little over a year in 2022 in the United States. According to “near-final data” released on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, overall life expectancy at birth rose to 77.5 years in 2022 from 76.4 years in 2021.

This rise comes after two continuous dips in past years, fueled by mortality largely due to COVID-19. The US experienced its largest single fall in life expectancy in more than seven (7) decades in 2020. It was followed by another decline in 2021, US News reported.

High mortality rate due to COVID-19

As per the CDC, COVID-19 is responsible for most of- the year-after-year rise in deaths while accounting for other factors, such as unintentional injuries due to drug overdoses, according to US News.

The rise in life expectancy is linked to a decline in deaths due to COVID-19. The study found that around 84 percent of the change in life expectancy in 2022 is brought about due to the COVID-19 mortality decline, while the reduction in deaths caused by heart disease, unintentional injuries, cancer, and homicide accounted for approximately 10 percent.

Separate data by the CDC showed COVID-19 brought approximately 30 percent of US total deaths in early January 2021, which fell to approximately 5 percent by late December 2022.

The report also revealed that 2022’s increase is still not large enough to put the US back to its immediate pre-pandemic levels. Instead, it placed it on par with the life expectancy in the early 2000s.

The researchers said, “The increase in life expectancy would have been even greater if not for the offsetting effects of increases in mortality” tied to causes such as influenza and pneumonia, perinatal conditions, and kidney disease, among others, US News reported.

Visual Representation of life expectancy post COVID-19

US life expectancy at birth during 1970-2022

Comparison by Gender: Among men, average life expectancy increased to 74.8 in 2022, increasing 1.3 years from the previous year. In women, there is a 0.9-year increase, which brings the total to 80.2 years.

The gap between the two genders also narrowed down in 2022 – i.e., to 5.4 from 5.8 in last year. The study suggested that this difference was lowest in 2014 at 4.8, which was then increased in both 2020 and 2021 to “levels not seen since 1996,” when the difference was six years.

Across Race and Ethnicity: The Report showed a rise in life expectancy across racial and ethnic groups also in 2022. The largest increase has occurred among American Indian and Alaska Native people, which is 2.3 years, reaching 67.9 years from 65.6 years in 2021.

This rise has followed a massive loss of life expectancy of more than six years from 2019 to 2021. It was due to an increased number of deaths from COVID-19, mortality from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, suicide, cancer, and diabetes.

There is a second-largest increase in life expectancy among Hispanic individuals, which rose from 77.8 years in 2021 to 80 years in 2022, adding 2.2 years, the rise mainly driven by a decline in mortality due to COVID-19.

As per the Report, among Black Americans, life expectancy increased by 1.6 years, i.e., from 71.2 in 2021 to 72.8 in 2022, while Whites saw a 0.8-year increase to 77.5 in 2022.

Among Asian people, it rose by one year, which is 84.5 in 2022 and 83.5 in 2021, US News reported.

Other findings from the Report

It is to be noted that figures came out from a second CDC report. It also highlighted the different mortality-related trends, breaking down suicide data.

It showed the provisional age-adjusted suicide rate in 2022 was 14.3 per 100,000 standard population in 2022- which is around 1 percent higher than 2021’s final data of 14.1 per 100,000 and nearly 6 percent higher than a rate of 13.5 per 100,000 in 2020.

As per the Report, the suicide rate for 2022 is the highest since 1941. The data also revealed that the numbers are growing consecutively for the second year, rising from 48,183 deaths in 2021 to 49,449 in 2022 – the highest number ever recorded in the United States, US News reported.

The Report stated, “The 2022 final number of suicides is likely to be higher as additional death certificates with pending causes of death may be determined to be suicides.”

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