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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Will Covid reduce the average lifespan?

10 September 2020

With the death-toll from Covid infection seemingly falling as a percentage of those who are infected, it might be tempting to think that this thing will go away all by itself.

The reality however, is shaping up to be somewhat different.

We've seen that people can be reinfected with CV19, sometimes within just a few months of being hit the first time. It would appear that, at least in some cases, the level of immunity granted by infection is not that long-lived.

More worrying however, are the long-term effects that CV19 seems to be producing in those who have supposedly "recovered".

Unlike a cold or the traditional flu, it seems that CV19 can have very subtle and long-lived effects on the body.

A worryingly high percentage of even the young who are infected and survive are left with lasting damage to their hearts, brains and other organs.

This isn't like that cold you had a few years ago that left you with a 90-day cough. These effects are far more serious and life-changing.

One can only wonder whether CV19 will effectively shorten the lifespans of many who catch it, not by killing them immediately, but because of the lingering effects that may predispose them to other afflictions later in life.

A weak heart or damaged lungs can create a greater risk of CPD as the victim ages and who knows what the outcome of micro-strokes or chronic kidney damage may do once the years start ticking by.

In effect, CV19 may be packing a double-punch. Not only will those infected suffer weeks or months of pain and suffering during the initial infection but they may also be relegated to far more suffering later in life.

The cost to the world's health services could be enormous.

I fear that because the immediate death-toll from CV19 appears to be reducing (as a percentage of those infected), we're starting to get complacent about exactly what risk this disease poses to our future. Without an effective vaccine, it could be that it's not so much "if" you'll catch it as "when" you'll catch it. And, once it has entered your body, you may never fully recover.

Could this be the pathogen that resets the clock on average life-expectancies?

For many years, we've seen life-expentancy slowly climbing. Improved medicines, a better awareness of health and nutrition, rising sanitation standards and other factors have seen the average lifespan of people rise from one's mid-40's just a few hundred years ago, to twice that in the modern era.

How likely is it that CV19 may knock five or even 10 years off that, as the long-term complications start kicking in and our heath systems once again become pushed to capacity dealing with the secondary effects in old-age?

Ah well, I've had a pretty good innngs... it's the future generations I feel sorry for. Mind you, I do believe that someone said we (baby boomers) are probably the first generation whose lifespans will exceed that of our children -- due to the other negative effects of modern living.

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