A comprehensive measure of lifeyears lost due to COVID-19 in 2020: a comparison across countries and with past disasters

September 19, 2021

Doan VN, Noy I.

Global Policy

Doan et al. set out to compare the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide and the costs incurred from other disasters that have occurred between 2000 and 2019. the lifeyears index was used to measure the costs. The lifeyears index takes into account all the ways life were lost to all members of society and relies on the WHO’s methodology that was used to measure Disability Adjusted Life Years for the Global Burden of Diseases study. The equations used for the disasters from 2000-2019 included indexes that accounted for total number of deaths, age at death, life expectancy at death, the number of people directly affected, the number of life-years lost due to economic damages, and the total amount of physical damages. The lifeyear index for COVID-19 included the median age at death, varying coefficients for mild and severe symptoms, economic impact, predicted decline in GDP in 2020, the total number of deaths, and the total number of cases. The total number of lifeyears lost from COVID-19 were higher than the average number lost due to disasters between 2000-2019 in all continents. The Americas have the highest per capita lifeyears lost compared to other continents. When comparing by the World Bank’s income group classification, high-income countries had the highest per capita lost due to COVID-19. In the top ten countries with the highest total lifeyears lost, economic loss is the highest associated cause. Small countries, especially those whose economy rely heavily on export and tourism, were particularly susceptible to loss from the pandemic.

Doan VN, Noy I. A Comprehensive Measure of Lifeyears Lost due to COVID-19 in 2020: A Comparison across Countries and with Past Disasters. Glob Policy 2021; 12: 553–61.