CHENNAI: Nearly 25,000 ‘excess deaths’ during the pandemic have brought down the mean life expectancy of Chennai’s population by almost four years from 70. 7 years to 66.
4 years, a study has found. While the mathematical correction doesn’t mean a Chennaiite is now likely to die early, doctors advocate stronger public health measures.
“Till June 2021, Chennai registered nearly 8,000 deaths due to Covid-19. There were also premature deaths because of delay in diagnosis and treatment for several other diseases and medical emergencies due to various reasons including lockdown,” said director of public health Dr T S Selvavinayagam, who was part of the study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Although the US, UK, Italy, and Spain have older populations than India, these cou ntries recorded only 1. 6 to 2. 1 excess death per 1,000 residents through June 2021, compared to 5. 2 in Chennai. The excess mortality in Chennai led to the dip in life expectancy, first i n 2020 to 69. 5. The second reduced it further.
“This is the biggest fall in life expectancy we have seen in 70 years,” said Dr Selva Vinayagam, who is also the registrar of births and deaths in Tamil Nadu. “This study gathers evidence to push for health policies and strategies that can offer better universal healthcare. We must ensure people get the right treatment at the right time for all ailments without hindrance. Something that was not possible during a pandemic,” he added.
Throughout the pandemic, Chennai recorded 8,167 deaths. The number of excess deaths inc reased with age.