For anyone infected with COVID-19, this may be the best news so far

Even though we are on the road to recovery, scientists are still making startling discovers about COVID-19 every day.

Virologists are still uncovering new characteristics of the pathogen at the center of our health crisis. Much of the recent data aims to explain the lingering effects of SARS-CoV-2–varied as they may be.

It was initially theorized that severe COVID-19 can cut an infected person’s lifespan by an average of 10 years; men were suspected to lose roughly 13 years of potential life, while women were said to lose about 11 years.

However, after controlling for underlying conditions, and introducing more cases to the data set, a new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), posits that the novel coronavirus only shortens a US lifespan by about a year.

The team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley who authored the new report, used two scenarios in order to calculate death risks: a projection of 1 million deaths for the year and a projection of 250,000 deaths.

The analysis revealed that 1 million deaths in 2020 would reduce the average US lifespan by three years and 250,000 Covid deaths would reduce lifespans by about a year.

These estimations would be even grimmer without relevant interventions established by national health systems.  Without them, we could have been grappling with 2 million deaths before 2021 and a reduction of the average U.S. lifespan by 5 years.

The journal made a point to reiterate the seriousness of the virus while updating initial lethality estimations.

“As we write, societies around the world are struggling to protect their populations from the COVID-19 pandemic. Both citizens and policymakers are trying to make sense of the magnitude of the crisis and the lives that it threatens,” the authors wrote. “It is possible to portray the death toll in a way that feels overwhelmingly large, but it is also possible to describe it in a way that makes the epidemic mortality seem almost negligible. Our view is that COVID-19 should be seen as an extremely large mortality threat. By most measures, the threat of the current epidemic is smaller in scale than that of the Spanish flu, but COVID-19 mortality could in a matter of months be equal in overall magnitude to the decades-long HIV and opioid epidemics.”

Early estimations were much higher because a significant portion of those who died of COVID-19 would have likely died prematurely from one of the preexisting conditions that made their case so severe.

These deaths are both tragic and illuminating. As clinicians get better at treating severe disease, academicians are getting better at anticipating it

“Our intention here is not to provide new forecasts of COVID-19 mortality. Instead, we combine existing projections with observations to date about the age pattern of mortality, producing an estimated age profile of COVID-19 mortality. This age profile, which can be scaled up or down, enables estimation of the epidemic’s impact on period life expectancy and loss of person-years of life at a population scale, as well as comparison with past epidemics,” the authors concluded.