A Stats SA report has revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced life expectancy among South Africans since the country registered its first case in March 2020. SA has experienced two waves of infections and is currently battling a third dominated by the highly transmittable Delta variant.
According to the report, deaths in the first and second waves led to an increase in the crude death rate (CDR). This indicates the number of deaths per 1,000 in a given year. The CDR rate went from 8.8 per 1,000 people in 2020 to 11.6 per 1,000 people. This indicates an increase of about 34%, states the report.
“Life expectancy at birth for males declined from 62.4 years in 2020 to 59.3 in 2021 (3.1 year drop) and from 68.4 years in 2020 to 64.6 for females (3.8 year drop). While the life expectancy at birth indicator is an important health indicator, in this Covid-19 period it should not be interpreted as a projection of an individual’s lifespan, but should rather be used to shed light on the cumulative burden of a crisis compared to recent trends,” said the report.
According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), more than 1.3 million females have been infected with Covid-19 and more than 981,000 males have contracted the coronavirus since March last year.
Stats SA said vaccination, adhering to the safety measures like social distancing and sanitising hands and surfaces, among others, is likely to see SA revert to previous life expectancy levels. The cumulative death rate from complications related to Covid-19 is 60,080 and cumulative infections are 2,302,304. More than 14 million tests have been conducted since March 2020, according to the national health department.