HealthDay News — Compared with 2020, in 2021, there was a 35.7 percent increase in the years of life lost (YLL) per COVID-19 death, according to a research letter study published online Nov. 29 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Noting that COVID-19-involved deaths increased among younger persons in 2021 versus 2020, Mark É. Czeisler, Ph.D., and Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, aimed to quantify this downward age shift. YLL associated with leading causes of U.S. death were estimated during matched 10-month periods in 2020 and 2021.
The researchers found that in both 10-month intervals, the 15 leading causes of U.S. death were the same, and accounted for about 80 percent of deaths. Across the intervals, the YLL associated with most of the leading causes of U.S. death were stable. Despite a 20.8 percent decrease in COVID-19 deaths during March to December 2021 versus March to December 2020, there was a 7.4 percent increase in YLL due to COVID-19 as the age distribution of decedents shifted downward; the median age of COVID-19-involved deaths decreased from 78 to 69 years. Per COVID-19 death, the YLL increased 35.7 percent; no change of more than 2.2 percent was seen for YLL per death for any other cause.
“A shift in COVID-19 mortality to relatively younger people in the second pandemic year contributed to markedly elevated YLL from this increasingly preventable cause of death,” the authors write.
One author is the incumbent of an endowed professorship provided to Harvard University by Cephalon.