COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life

The coronavirus pandemic shortened American lives by a wider degree in 2020 than any cause other than heart disease and cancer, according to a new analysis.

Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzed by the Pew Research Center, found the virus that killed more than 380,000 Americans last year — and more than 600,000 to date — cost nearly 5.5 million years of life that those victims would otherwise have been expected to live.

That is more years of lost life than Americans lose to all accidents combined, including traffic accidents, drug overdoses, drownings and firearm deaths. It is about half the 10.2 million years of life that cancer costs Americans in a given year.

The measurement of the number of life years lost to any particular cause takes into account the average life expectancy of a victim.