Life expectancy in the United States has declined in 2021. Many high-income countries have seen it recover.

A little over a month later third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, research revealed on Thursday that life expectancy in the United States fell again in 2021 – following a well-documented development drop in 2020 and contrasted with a recovery trend in other high-income countries.

The document, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows that life expectancy in the United States fell from 78.86 years in 2019 to 76.99 years in 2020 and 76.60 years in 2021, i.e. a net loss of 2.26 years.

The study comes as progressives in Congress continue to fight for Medicare for All legislation to replace America’s for-profit health care system – a system in which 112 million adults struggle to get by. pay for care, according to Gallup and West Health.

The research also comes just days after an analysis of the Poor People’s Campaign exposed how the public health crisis has been twice as deadly in poor counties as it is in wealthy ones and “exacerbated pre-existing social and economic disparities that have long festered in the United States”

Johns Hopkins University Case Tracker reported that as of Thursday afternoon, Covid-19 had claimed 984,571 lives in the United States, or nearly 16% of the more than six million deaths worldwide.

Dr. Steven Woolf, co-author of the new study and director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, mentioned in a statement that “we already knew that the United States had experienced historic losses in life expectancy in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. What was unclear was what happened in 2021.”

“At the start of 2021, knowing that a great vaccine was being distributed, I was hoping the United States could recoup some of its historic losses,” Woolf said. “But I started to worry more when I saw what happened over the year.”

“Even so, as a scientist, until I saw the data, the question of how life expectancy in the United States would be affected that year remained open,” he added. “It was shocking to see that life expectancy in the United States, rather than having rebounded, had fallen even further.”

In addition to looking at the United States, the researchers looked at life expectancy over the past two years in 19 “peer countries” and found a smaller decline between 2019 and 2020 – an average of 0.57 years – followed by an average increase of 0.28 years. from 2020 to 2021.

“While other high-income countries saw their life expectancies increase in 2021, recouping about half of their losses, U.S. life expectancies continued to decline,” Woolf said. “It speaks volumes about the life consequences of the United States’ handling of the pandemic.”

Aiming at policymakers who oppose efforts to curb the spread of the virus, the expert added that “in a country where the US Constitution and the 10th Amendment grants public health authority to the states, I believe that “The American catastrophe speaks volumes about the policies and behaviors of American governors – at least some of them. A highly effective vaccine was available in 2021 that made Covid-19 deaths almost completely preventable.”

Woolf pointed out that while the Delta and Omicron variants contributed significantly to the death toll in the United States, these mutations also impacted other countries which saw life expectancy rates rebound year on year. last.

“Deaths from these variants occurred almost entirely among unvaccinated people,” he said. “What has happened in the United States is less about variants and more about levels of resistance to vaccination and public rejection of practices, such as masking and mandates, to reduce viral transmission.”

Noting high rates of heart disease and obesity as well as inequities in access to health care in the United States, lead author and University of Colorado Boulder sociology professor Ryan Masters said that “these same factors have made the United States more vulnerable than other countries to the consequences of mortality. of Covid-19. »

The study states that “over the two-year period between 2019 and 2021, black Hispanic and non-Hispanic American populations experienced the greatest losses in life expectancy, reflecting the legacy of systemic racism and the inadequacies of American management of the pandemic”.

Woolf said that “unfortunately, it was no surprise to see the disproportionate impact on people of color. Our research had already shown this. But there was an interesting twist in 2021: the only decrease in l life expectancy has occurred among whites, the life expectancy of the black population has even increased.

“Despite this increase,” he pointed out, “the life expectancy of the black population remains much lower than that of other groups, but the disproportionate impact on white people contains clues as to what happened. in 2021″.

Co-author Laudan Aron, Principal Investigator at the Urban Institute, Told The Washington Post“It’s hard to imagine that wanting to get vaccinated isn’t a piece of that puzzle.”

“The gap in life expectancy between the United States and comparable income countries is now over five years, which is an incredible gap,” she said. “Death and life expectancy? It is the ultimate marker of what it means to live in a country.

Some members of Congress believe the pandemic demonstrates the need for a national agenda that treats health care as a basic human right and reaches communities that have been disproportionately excluded and mistreated under the current profit-driven system.

Last month, at the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s first Medicare for All hearing since the pandemic began, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) declared that “this policy will save lives, I want to say that clearly”.

“I hope this hearing will be one more step in our commitment to ensuring that everyone in this country, and especially our black, brown and Indigenous communities, have the medical care they need to thrive,” she said.

The day after the House event, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — a longtime Medicare for All advocate — announcement that his panel will hold a similar hearing in early May.

On social media on Friday, Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ personnel manager, noted the new newspaper and mentioned that he “can’t stop thinking about how many lives could have been saved if Congress had passed Bernie’s bill requiring Medicare to pay all health care bills for uninsured and underinsured people for the pandemic – which was entirely paid for by a single -time 60% wealth tax on 700 billionaires.

The new research comes after a March study published in the review Population and Development Reviewwhich found that “global life expectancy appears to have decreased by 0.92 years between 2019 and 2020 and by an additional 0.72 years between 2020 and 2021”.

This article – written by Patrick Heuveline of the California Center for Population Research at the University of California, Los Angeles – concludes:

The evolution of life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 in America, Europe and a few other countries has been the subject of particular attention. The results presented here confirm several key points from previous analyses, such as the large impact of the pandemic on mortality (1) in the United States compared to other high-income countries in Western Europe, (2) in Russia compared to compared to the rest of Europe, and above all (3) in certain countries of Central America and South America.

Using late 2021 reports of deaths attributed to Covid-19 and modeling their relationship to excess deaths, preliminary estimates have also been presented for changes in life expectancy in 2021. These results suggest a growing gap between , on the one hand, the countries of Western Europe and, on the other hand, the United States, where life expectancy has continued to fall, and even more so Russia, where it is expected to fall more in 2021 than ‘in 2020.

Writing about Heuveline’s findings on Thursday for World Socialist WebsiteEvan Blake and Benjamin Mateus made the case that “unlike previous pandemics, every aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic was both predictable and preventable, as evidenced by dozens of scientific papers, books and even films released just since the start of the 21st century”.

“At every step of the process, the financial oligarchy and its political representatives have ensured that profits come before human lives and well-being,” they added. “To put it succinctly, falling life expectancy is a concrete health measure of social murder policies, the monetary values ​​of which can be gauged by the concomitant rise in stock market indices.”