- Studies show link between country’s wealth and life expectancy of its citizens
- ‘Long, drawn-out flat slump’ likely caused by lockdown will reduce person’s life
- Rising life expectancy stalled in some countries after the 2008 financial crisis
Lockdowns will end up claiming the equivalent of more than 500,000 lives because of the health impact of the ‘deep and prolonged recession it will cause’, a leading expert claimed last night.
Studies show a link between a country’s wealth and the life expectancy of its citizens.
That means the ‘long, drawn-out flat slump’ likely to be caused by Covid measures will reduce each person’s life by a few months on average, according to Professor Philip Thomas of Bristol University.
Multiplied across Britain’s population, that would be the equivalent of 560,000 whole lives, he calculated.
Writing for The Spectator magazine’s website, Prof Thomas said: ‘The richer a country, the longer its people live.’
This relationship can explain 80 per cent of the variation in life expectancy between nations.
It can also explain why rising life expectancy stalled in some countries, including the UK, after the 2008 financial crisis.
Thomas, a professor of risk management, said a sustained lockdown would lead to economic output slumping to around nine per cent lower than normal.
Grim forecasts have predicted three million unemployed. This economic impact would result in each person losing a little over four months’ life expectancy on average.
Prof Thomas wrote: ‘Now, this might not sound a great deal on first hearing, but when it is multiplied by Britain’s population of 67 million, the number of average lives lost comes to 560,000 – rather greater than the UK’s military and civilian losses in the Second World War.’
He arrived at that figure by first calculating the total number of years likely to be lost by the population as a whole, roughly 23 million, then dividing that by 42, which is the remaining life expectancy of the average Briton alive today.
This gives a figure for the number of ‘average lives lost’.
In contrast, even if the UK ends up suffering 250,000 Covid-related deaths, then this would only be equivalent to 45,000 ‘average lives’ as those who die of Covid tend to be elderly, 82 on average.
That means that even before catching the virus they would have had much shorter remaining life expectancy than the typical Briton.
Previous studies suggest Covid robs its victims of 7.5 years of life on average.
Prof Thomas wrote: ‘There is no doubt that this [250,000 Covid deaths] would be a very bad outcome.
‘However, it is less than 10 per cent of the [equivalent] loss of life the nation will incur by subjecting itself to a prolonged lockdown.’