Life expectancy likely to fall due to coronavirus, experts say

Screen showing an elderly patient's vitals in hospital
Screen showing an elderly patient's vitals in hospitalPhoto: AirUbon/DepositPhotos

The coronavirus will likely mean that the life expectancy in the Netherlands will fall this year, experts from Statistic Netherlands and the University of Amsterdam, and the association for intensive care NVIC said to newspaper AD.

"The Dutch healthcare system has so far been able to deliver such good quality that we have aged, but the elderly are also susceptible. Now a disaster is hitting us, causing more people to die," Diederik Gommers of NVIC said to the newspaper. He expects that the average life expectancy will decrease by "one or two years". "Because a larger group is now vulnerable and there is now a virus. I expect that there will be a dip in survival. That means that the Dutch person will become less old"

"You will at least see the higher death rate due to corona reflected in life expectancy for this year," Statistics Netherlands sociologist Tanja Traag said to the newspaper. Whether life expectancy will also decrease next year and thereafter, is "more difficult to predict", she said. "We don't know, for example, if and when there will be a vaccine against Covid-19," Traag said. "If we look at Italian patterns in which those deaths increase, the impact on life expectancy is growing."

"The average life expectancy of people over 65 is really going down," Jan Latten, emeritus professor of social demography at the University of Amsterdam, said to AD. "The dream that we will all grow even older after our retirement has disappeared." His research into reported Covid-19 deaths shows that mortality mainly occurs in the age category 75 to 89 years. "Across 2018, most of the deaths were 85 to 90 years old, but among corona deaths, the highest number of deaths is in the 80 to 84 category," Latten explained. "More people aged 70 or 80 are now dying than would normally be the case. You can see that as lost lifespan."