The mortality burden of the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly heavy among older adults, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with underlying health conditions. These groups are known to have higher mortality rates than others even in the absence of COVID. Using data from the 2019 American Community Survey, the 2018 Health and Retirement Study, and the 2020 National Vital Statistics System, this paper estimates how much lower the overall mortality rate will be for those who lived through the acute phase of the early pandemic after accounting for this selection effect of those who died from COVID. Such selection may have implications for life insurance and annuity premiums, as well as assessments of the financial standing of Social Security – if the selection is large enough to substantially alter projected survivor mortality.
The paper found that:
10-year mortality rates, absent direct COVID deaths and long COVID, will likely be lower in 2021 than anticipated in 2019.
However, these differences are small, ranging from a decline of 0.4 percentage points for people in their 60s to 1 percentage point for those in their 90s.
The small difference is in spite of the fact that COVID mortality was, indeed, very selective, with mortality declines exceeding half the maximum possible declines, holding total COVID deaths constant, for every age group.
The policy implications of the findings are:
That declines in mortality due to COVID selection likely will not impact overall population mortality substantially enough to affect Social Security cost projections.
Any impact of selection effects on Social Security costs will likely be swamped by ongoing mortality increases directly attributable to acute and long COVID.
Author(s): Gal Wettstein, Nilufer Gok, Anqi Chen, Alicia H. Munnell
Publication Date: August 2022
Publication Site: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
Researchers looked at 236,379 British patients diagnosed with COVID-19 over six months, analyzing neurologic and psychiatric complications during that time period. They compared those individuals to others who had experienced similar respiratory illnesses that were not COVID-19.
They found a significant increase in several medical conditions among the COVID-19 group, including memory loss, nerve disorders, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and insomnia. Additionally, the symptoms were present among all age groups and in patients who were asymptomatic, isolating in home quarantine, and those admitted to hospitals.
Brown’s story isn’t unusual. Around the world, many members of the long Covid community are reporting a remarkable improvement after receiving the vaccine. Although there is no definitive data on how many are experiencing this, informal surveys report up to 30 per cent of long-haulers whose symptoms have improved following vaccination. The majority report feeling the same, with fewer reporting a worsening of symptoms after receiving the vaccine.
Many long-haulers had initially expressed apprehension about the vaccine, for fear it would exacerbate their condition. But the opposite appears to be the case for some. Figuring out why could be the key to finally understanding what causes the mysterious ailment, once and for all.
The COVID Symptom Study App provides a first overview of who is more likely to develop Long-COVID after an acute infection. More than four million users have described their post-COVID symptoms here.
The first published evaluation of slightly more than 4,000 participants showed that one in 22 COVID‑19 cases is still affected by Long-COVID symptoms eight weeks later; every 44th person maintains symptoms after four more weeks.66
Risk factors identified here are an increased BMI and higher age, although any age group can be affected. In the younger age group, the risk for women seems to be higher than for men. Since males have a higher risk of a severe acute COVID‑19 disease, this raises further questions about the underlying differences. For Long-COVID, there may be a connection with the fact that chronic fatigue syndrome occurs more often in women than in men.67 Asthma is another risk factor for Long-COVID. In general, the probability for Long-COVID increased with the number of symptoms in the first week.
Author(s): Dr. Katharina Dorn, Life/Health Associate Underwriter, Cologne