COVID cuts Cyprus life expectancy by 6 months

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The COVID pandemic has slashed more than half a year from Cypriots’ life expectancy, with the average lifespan dropping from 82.4 years in 2020 to 81.7 years in 2022, following a low of 81.3 years in 2021, according to a health report from the European Union.

However, despite this decline, Cyprus maintains a life expectancy one year above the EU average of 80.7 years.

Additionally, in 2022, Cypriot women, on average, live nearly four years longer (83.6 years) than men (79.9 years), contributing to a gender gap of 3.7 years, which is smaller than in many other EU countries.

The EU report attributes the decrease in life expectancy to the pandemic, acknowledging the toll it has taken on public health.

Concerning excess deaths, the report reveals that Cyprus experienced higher-than-average excess mortality in 2020 (by approximately 13%), 2021 (by 23%), and 2022 (by 25%) compared to the previous five years.

In 2020, around 2% of all deaths were linked to COVID-19, a figure that rose to 8.4% in 2021, accounting for 619 deaths.

The average age of COVID-related deaths was 80 years.

Circulatory system diseases were the leading cause of death in Cyprus in 2021, accounting for 25% of all deaths, followed by cancer (22%).

Cancer-related deaths in 2021 were dominated by lung cancer (4.4%), followed by breast cancer (2.1%), colorectal cancer (1.9%), prostate cancer (1.5%), and pancreatic cancer (1.4%).

Heart disease

Other notable causes of death in 2021 included heart disease (7.8%), diabetes (6.8%), Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia (5.6%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (2.2%), strokes (4.9%), fatal injuries from falls (0.9%), transport accidents (0.7%), and suicides (0.3%).

In 2022, 78% of the Cypriot population reported being in good health, exceeding the EU average of 68%. However, disparities exist, with higher-income individuals more likely to report good health.

The report also noted that women tend to live a larger portion of their lives after age 65 with health issues and disabilities, with 44% of Cypriot women aged 65 and over reporting multiple chronic conditions in 2020 compared to 30% of men.

The report suggests that the number of deaths related to COVID-19 over the three years may be underreported, and disruptions to health services during the pandemic may have led to increased mortality from other causes.

The low coverage of second booster vaccinations among older age groups is cited as a potential contributor to the rise in excess mortality in 2021 and 2022, even though the second booster was not rolled out until July 2022.

The pandemic tested the resilience of the Cypriot health system, affecting elective procedures, with volumes falling below the EU average in 2020, but experiencing a surge in 2021 to address backlogs and prevent increased waiting times.