The two crises, the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise in drug addiction and overdoses, are “a wake-up call” for the government, added Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Research and Policy of Infectious Diseases from the University of Minnesota. “It’s clearly what’s affecting the health of our communities, unlike almost anything we’ve seen before.”
People born in the United States in 2021 can now expect to live 76.4 years, roughly erasing the gains of a generation. In 2019, the figure was 78.8.
It’s a dramatic reversal for the US, where life expectancy had been rising since the early 20th century. The upward trajectory was steady for decades, driven by gains in public health and medicine.
This was reversed with the arrival of Covid in 2020. The disease hit an overstretched US healthcare system and the CDC found that death rates worsened in the second year of the pandemic. The number of deaths from Covid-19 increased by almost 20 percent from 2020 to 2021 and was again the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.
Although deaths have decreased by 2022, many public health experts believe they could be much lower. The ongoing politicization of the US Covid-19 response has negatively affected many Americans’ decisions about vaccination and other mitigation measures. According to the CDC, about 14 percent of Americans and 36 percent of people age 65 and older have received the latest booster.
At the same time, Volkow believes the pandemic spurred social changes that made people more vulnerable to using drugs as a way to escape. The pandemic also made it harder to get help. “The resources that could support people in the past were no longer available,” he said.
More than 106,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021, a nearly 16 percent increase from 2020. The death rate from synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, cocaine, and psychostimulants such as methamphetamines, increased more than 20%
This comes on top of one 30 percent increase in overdose deaths in 2020.
Fatal drug overdose rates increased among nearly all racial and ethnic groups, and were highest among American Indians or Alaska Natives and blacks.
The Biden administration has struggled to respond as the deadly trade in fentanyl and other synthetic opioids has evolved and to expand access to treatment for substance use disorder.
In total, there were 3,464,231 deaths in the US in 2021, 80,502 more than in 2020. The other leading causes of death include unintentional injuries, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, chronic liver and cirrhosis and kidney diseases. . .
After Covid-19, the rate of people dying from unintentional injuries, which include drug overdoses, and liver disease and cirrhosis, most commonly caused by alcohol consumption, hepatitis and complications from obesity and diabetes , saw the biggest increase.
Death rates have risen the most among American Indian or Alaska Native women, followed by white men.
Seconds provisional data The CDC published in August, life expectancy for whites has declined from 78.8 in 2019 to 76.4 in 2021.
American Indians and Alaska Natives now have a life expectancy of 65.2 years, the data show, up from 71.8 in 2019.