Life expectancy in South Africa, the country most affected on the continent by the Covid-19 pandemic, has fallen by nearly four years in the past 12 months, the official statistics agency said on Monday.
The country, which has nearly 2.3 million cases of infections and 66,859 deaths, experienced two very deadly waves of the virus between July 2020 and last June, and is currently going through a third virulent wave.
Sharp increase in deaths in 2021
This resulted in an increase in the crude death rate from 8.7 to 11.6 deaths per 1,000 people, from 2020 to 2021, Statistics South Africa said in a report.
According to the agency, the sharp rise in deaths in 2021, of around 34%, has resulted in a drop in life expectancy. “Life expectancy at birth for men has increased from 62.4 in 2020 to 59.3 in 2021 (…) and from 68.4 in 2020 to 64.6 for women”.
She stressed, however, that the life expectancy indicator should not be interpreted as a projection of an individual’s lifespan, but rather shows the cumulative weight of the pandemic crisis.
In addition, the violent riots which left at least 212 dead last week in South Africa raise fears of a new peak in contamination. In places, vaccinations have had to be suspended due to supply difficulties with cut off transport and the looting of pharmacies.