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CDC Data Shows Lockdowns Caused More Loss of Life in 2020 than COVID Did

On July 21, 2021, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a part of the CDC, released a report stating that provisional death statistics for 2020 showed a 1.5-year decline in life expectancy at birth, from 78.8 in 2019 to 77.3 in 2020.

I cannot analyze this in as much depth as I would like because they do not give details on the causes of death and the number of deaths attributed to different causes. The report says COVID caused 73.8% of the decline in life expectancy but that other causes of death decreased and this contributed to offsetting gains in life expectancy.

But anyway, apparently we had about a 1.5-year decline in life expectancy at birth. What does that mean? It does not mean that COVID cost each of us 1.5 years of life on average. It is life expectancy at birth, so it means, for all babies born on January 1, 2020, if the death rates by age that we experienced in 2020 stayed the same forever, or for the next 120 years or so, or the maximum possible duration of their lives, the average age that cohort would die. Since the life expectancy is about 78 years, the 1.5-year decline in 2020 is basically paid over each of those 78 years, and you can consider it to be 1.5 years / 78 = 0.0192 years or 7.0 days of life lost in 2020 due to earlier deaths than we were experiencing in 2019.

According to Worldometer, we had 365,736 COVID deaths in the U.S. in 2020. We know by their ages that the COVID dead had a life expectancy of 11.7 years. Multiplying the number of COVID deaths by 11.7 years gives 4.279 million person-years of life lost to COVID in 2020; and dividing that into the U.S. 2020 population of 331.5 million persons gives 0.0129 years of life lost to COVID per person or 4.7 days.

But the 11.7 years is life expectancy based solely on the ages of the COVID dead, not considering their health status. It is a large overestimate of their actual life expectancy remaining because the people dying of COVID were sicker than the average person of the same age. At every age, most people infected with SARS-CoV-2 survive it, and the people who survived the infection were healthier than the people who succumbed to it. So the people dying of COVID did not actually have an 11.7 year life expectancy. Most of them had less than one year to live had they not been infected with the virus, because the median person dying of COVID is an 84-year-old living in a long term care facility with two serious preexisting conditions, and that person statistically has less than a year to live, whereas the average 84-year-old has 6 years to live. From the fact that people who die of COVID virus infection are less healthy than the people of the same age who survive it, I estimate in my book that the average life expectancy of the COVID dead was 4 years, although their calendar life expectancy based just on their age was 11.7 years.

Using the 4-year life expectancy, the time of life lost to COVID deaths in 2020 was 1.6 days, and if COVID raged forever at the same pace it killed in 2020, it would cost us 125 days or 0.34 years of life per person (arrived at by multiplying the 1.6 days per year by the 78 year average life expectancy).

From the age only of the COVID dead in 2020, the lost life time would appear to be 4.7 days in 2020 and multiplied by the 78 year life expectancy would be 366 days or 1.00 years of lost life expectancy, or 67% of the 1.5 years that the CDC estimates we lost to all causes in 2020. (The CDC report says that COVID accounted for 73.8% of the decline in life expectancy--not too far off my estimate of 67%.)

That leaves 0.5 years of lost life expectancy not explained by COVID. None of that is due to COVID. Even the CDC admits that. I contend that 0.5 years of lost life expectancy is entirely due to the lockdowns. It is primarily increased suicides, drug overdose deaths, and alcohol deaths because we isolated people from one another and threw them out of work, which threw them into depression and made them prone to suicides and alcoholism and drug abuse. Secondarily it would be increased cancer and heart disease deaths because we scared people away from going to the hospital for treatment when they had a heart attack or from going for medical care for anything other than COVID, including symptoms of cancer or other serious illness. A minor increase in deaths and decrease in life expectancy caused by the lockdowns would be increased homicides from child abuse and domestic abuse and from murders and other crimes that increased because we threw young people out of school and disproportionately threw them out of work by the lockdowns, both of which would make them more likely to commit crime, and young people, including juveniles, commit most violent crimes.

So I break down the 1.5-year life expectancy loss in 2020 as

I estimated in my book that increased deaths of despair caused by the lockdowns would ultimately cost us 4.6 days of life per person and that most of that would come in subsequent years, not in 2020. This data suggesting the lockdowns in 2020 already cost us 2.3 days of life suggests my estimate was too low.

Also, the this report stated: “The decline in life expectancy would have been even greater were it not for the offsetting effects of decreases in mortality due to cancer (45.2%), chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD) (20.8%), [and] heart disease (5.0%).” Interestingly, those just happen to be three of the four leading causes of death in the U.S. (the other is unintentional injuries), and all happen to be preexisting conditions that increase risk of death from COVID. What that means to me is, not that we actually had fewer cancer and heart disease and lung disease deaths in the U.S. in 2020, but that we had the same number of those deaths and many of them were incorrectly attributed to COVID. This would mean that COVID deaths did not actually cause a 1.0 year drop in life expectancy in 2020 but a smaller number, and that the lockdowns did not cause a 0.5 year drop in life expectancy but a larger number.

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