Global life expectancy receded in 2020 to levels that have not been seen since World War II due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research published by Oxford University.

According to the study, American men’s life expectancy dropped by 2.2 years compared to 2019, while men in 15 other countries wiped off a year of their lives compared to women in 11 countries.

Compared to 2019, life expectancy dropped by six months in 22 of the 29 countries studied, which included the U.S., Chile and European nations. There were overall reductions in 27 of the 29 countries studied.

The university said the life expectancy drop was thought to be linked to official COVID-19 deaths, which total nearly 5 million globally, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

“The fact that our results highlight such a large impact that is directly attributable to COVID-19 shows how devastating a shock it has been for many countries,” said Dr Ridhi Kashyap, co-lead author of the paper, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Mortality rates primarily rose in the U.S. among those of working age and those under the age of 60, while deaths in Europe increased with people over the age of 60.

Kashyap requested more mortality data, saying, “ We urgently call for the publication and availability of more disaggregated data from a wider range of countries, including low- and middle-income countries, to better understand the impacts of the pandemic globally.”

The U.S. has reported more than 688,000 COVID-19-related deaths and more than 43 million positive coronavirus cases since the pandemic started, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The Covid pandemic has sent cases surging in Tunisia which now has one of the world's highest official per-capita death rates The Covid pandemic has sent cases surging in Tunisia which now has one of the world's highest official per-capita death rates Photo: AFP / BECHIR TAIEB