New research from the Australian National University (ANU) has revealed that the collective life expectancy of Australians has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
This study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, compares relative life expectancy across countries before and after the onset of the pandemic.
ANU researchers’ study found that the average life expectancy for Australians increased between 2019 and 2020 by 0.7 years for females and males.
According to the researchers, this is the largest increase observed in Australia since the 1990s.
The researchers attributed this rise to Australia’s strict response to COVID-19.
The study’s co-author Prof. Vladimir Canudas-Romo notes:
“During the 1918 Spanish flu, attempts were made to close borders. Yet, once ports opened, the lack of a vaccination meant the virus spread with fatal effects. With modern-day vaccines, Australia has been able to escape this deadly fate.”
The nations with the next highest increases were Denmark and Norway.
Both nations recorded an increase of 0.1 and 0.2 years for females and males respectively.
On the other hand, the USA showed a decrease with the average life expectancy being reduced by -1.7 and -2.2 years for females and males respectively.
Prof. Tim Driscoll, the University of Sydney, told ABC that the findings of the new study were interesting.
However, he added that the findings were not indicative of the broader wellbeing (mental and physical) despite showing that there were some benefits to lockdowns in Australia.
“From what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s good evidence that that happened, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been issues and challenges with the mental health of people who’ve been locked down and isolated.”
The debate raises an ultimate question that is the battle between life expectancy and quality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.