HealthDay News — In 31 countries, there were more than 28 million excess years of life lost in 2020, according to a study published online Nov. 3 in The BMJ.

Nazrul Islam, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a time series analysis involving 37 upper middle- and high-income countries or regions with reliable and complete mortality data. The reduction in life expectancy in 2020 was estimated based on the difference between observed and expected life expectancy. The World Health organization standard life table was used to estimate excess years of life lost in 2020.

The researchers found that in all countries studied except New Zealand, Taiwan, and Norway, where there was a gain in life expectancy in 2020, there were reductions in life expectancy in 2020; no change was seen in Denmark, Iceland, and South Korea. The greatest reductions in life expectancy were seen for Russia, the United States, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Chile, and Spain. In 2020, years of life lost were higher than expected for all countries except Taiwan, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and South Korea. More than 222 million years of life were lost in 2020 in the remaining 31 countries, representing 28.1 million years of life lost more than expected (17.3 and 10.8 million in men and women, respectively).

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“Quantifying the effects of specific policy interventions on the reduction of premature deaths will help inform future policy intervention,” the authors write.

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