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FILE: Queue for Covid injections in Iceland.
Life expectancy in the UK has fallen for both males and females, with the reduction driven mainly by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

A boy born between 2020 and 2022 is expected to live until he is 78.6 years old, while a girl born in that period is expected to live for 82.6 years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This compares to children born between 2017 and 2019, with life expectancy having fallen by 38 weeks from 79.3 years for males born in that period and by 23 weeks from 83.0 years for females.

The ONS said the pandemic had led to increased mortality in 2020 and 2021, and the impact is now seen in the latest life expectancy estimates.

Comment: Experts warned that, effectively, shutting down the healthcare service and using behavioural engineering to frighten people to stay at home would result in a surge in deaths. And, once lockdowns were lifted, it became clear that preventable diseases and cureable illnesses went untreated, worsening the outcome for patients.

However, the ONS said this does not mean a baby born between 2020 and 2022 will go on to live a shorter life, as life expectancy can increase as mortality rates improve through the years.

Pamela Cobb from the ONS said: "After a decade of slowing life expectancy improvements, we've now seen life expectancy fall for both men and women.

"The average lifespan of a baby born today will be determined by changes in mortality across their lifetime. If mortality rates improve, then life expectancy will go back up."

The latest estimates mean life expectancy at birth has returned to the same level it was for females born between 2010 and 2012 and is now slightly below the 2010 to 2012 level for males, the ONS said, noting that life expectancy improvements have been slow for the past decade.

The King's Fund charity, which works to improve health and care in England, said the data "lays bare the impact that the pandemic has had on life expectancy in the UK" and suggested a failure to bounce back following that period could point to "deeper problems with the health of the nation and the resilience of the health care system".

Comment: It didn't bounce back because one of the sharpest spikes in mortality, particularly for younger demographics, is seen once the injections were rolled out.

The charity said: "Improving life expectancy in the UK will require a coherent cross-government strategy that supports people to make healthy choices, identifies and treats illness earlier, and reduces health inequalities by improving the health of people in deprived communities."

England consistently has the highest life expectancy at birth for males and females, while Scotland has the lowest, the ONS said.