Swedish Life Expectancy to Drop for First Time in Century Due to Covid-19
A protective face mask on the ground in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photographer: Mikael Sjoberg/Bloomberg)

Swedish Life Expectancy to Drop for First Time in Century Due to Covid-19

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Life expectancy is falling in Sweden, which the country’s statistics agency says is directly tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

The average age people live “has increased steadily in Sweden from 1900 to 2019,” the agency said in a statement on Wednesday. “The fact that it’s now falling stands out.”

Sweden has suffered a much higher Covid-19 mortality rate than its Nordic neighbors, with its old-age care homes particularly hard hit. The country’s decision not to impose a lockdown remains controversial, and authorities are now shifting gear to place outright bans on some forms of social interaction to fight the virus.

For men, average life expectancy has already fallen to 80.8 in the year through August, from 81.3, Statistics Sweden said. For women, it fell to 84.4 from 84.7.

Based on the development so far, the statistics agency said it expects that “Covid-19 will cut life expectancy this year.”

A separate report showed that the number of Swedish Covid patients in intensive care rose to 209 on Wednesday, 16 more than the previous day and the most since June. Sweden has recorded about 63 deaths per 100,000 due to the virus, compared with 6 in Norway, 14 in Denmark and 7 in Finland.

In a recent OECD study, Sweden consistently ranked among the hardest hit nations in Europe, as measured by relative Covid mortality and infection rates. It was also the slowest at containing transmission.

“We are still seeing an increase in patients who need care and intensive care,” Thomas Linden, a departmental head at Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare, said on Tuesday.

“In a third wave, the health-care system will be even more strained than it has been so far,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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