Pandemic wipes out decade of progress on improving life expectancy

Britain has lost a decade of progress on life expectancy during the pandemic, international research has shown.

The report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that across the world, coronavirus caused a 16 per cent rise in expected deaths.

Life expectancy fell in 24 out of 30 countries, with Britain among the worst, according to data. Gains made since 2010 were wiped out in the UK, with life expectancy falling by a year, to 80.4 years.

The US fared worst for loss in life expectancy, with 1.6 years of life lost.

The figures show that across Europe, Britain has the second lowest number of hospital beds and doctors, compared with its population, with just 2.5 beds and three doctors per 1,000 people. Only Sweden fared worst for beds, while Poland had the fewest doctors.

Overall, the UK’s deaths from Covid per one million people were the 11th highest across all the countries examined.

How does the UK's Covid situation compare to 2020?

Mental health crisis

Britain was among the countries singled out for a sharp deterioration in mental health, with the prevalence of anxiety and depression now estimated to be twice as high as it was before the pandemic.

The figures suggest rates of more than 20 per cent across the adult population, compared with 10 per cent before the pandemic. 

The report also showed a sharp increase in health spending across OECD nations, with average health spending to GDP ratio jumping from 8.8 per cent in 2019 to 9.7 per cent in 2020.

The UK’s estimates suggest an increase from 10.2 per cent in 2019 to 12.8 per cent in 2020

OECD experts said the lack of healthcare staff globally had proved a greater problem than shortages of hospital beds.

“Covid-19 contributed, directly and indirectly, to a 16 per cent increase in the expected number of deaths in 2020 and the first half of 2021 across OECD countries,” the report found.

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