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Life expectancy in 2022

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Earlier today, a big strapping Marine came up to me, with tears in his eyes, and said, “Sir, why don’t you ever blog about life expectancy in the USA?” I thanked for his service and told him I would remedy this lacuna (oops, I just created three more fascists) posthaste.

So:

Life expectancy in the United States has begun to climb again as the threat of Covid-19 has receded, increasing by more than a year from 2021 to 2022, according to data released on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rise represents a slow and partial recovery for the country, which tallied more than 1.1 million Covid deaths and lost 2.4 years in life expectancy from 2019 to 2021.

This is pretty much a maximally pessimistic way of phrasing things, as is the story’s headline — I realize the story’s writers aren’t responsible for that — which is “U.S. Life Expectancy Creeps Up as Covid Deaths Fall.”

ACTSHULLY the 1.1 year rise in period life expectancy at birth is the biggest single year gain in this statistic in at least 75 years, so “creeps up” and “slow and partial recovery” aren’t very accurate descriptors per se. It means that just about half of the life expectancy loss during the first two years of the pandemic was erased in the third year. Back enveloping current mortality stats, I expect most of the rest of that deficit will be made up this year.

Objectively, this isn’t that great — in the developed world, the recovery from the pandemic-driven decline in life expectancy has been faster — but still the negativism in the framing is striking.

And while I’m quibbling:

Despite having one of the world’s most robust stores of vaccines, the United States struggled to vaccinate as many people against Covid — and especially older people — as other large and wealthy nations did. And it fell behind in administering booster shots, too, leaving it more vulnerable as the Omicron wave swept the country.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems like a relevant factor or two is being left out of this description. As written, it sounds like those Incompetent Government Bureaucrats just couldn’t get vaccines distributed fast enough, probably because the government can’t do anything right. Except for funding the development and distribution of a vaccine that saved a million lives or two just in the US let alone the rest of the world, but whatever.

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