Premature mortality attributable to COVID-19: Potential years of life lost in 17 countries around the world, January–August 2020

Maider Pagola Ugarte, Souzana Achilleos, Annalisa Quattrocchi, John Gabel, Ourania Kolokotroni, Constantina Constantinou, Nicoletta Nicolaou, Jose Manuel Rodriguez-Llanes, Qian Huang, Olesia Verstiuk, Nataliia Pidmurniak, Jennifer Wenjing Tao, Bo Burström, Petra Klepac, Ivan Erzen, Mario Chong, Manuel Barron, Terje P. Hagen, Zhanna Kalmatayeva, Kairat DavletovInbar Zucker, Zalman Kaufman, Maia Kereselidze, Levan Kandelaki, Nolwenn Le Meur, Lucy Goldsmith, Julia A. Critchley, Maria Angelica Pinilla, Gloria Isabel Jaramillo, Domingos Teixeira, Lara Ferrero Goméz, Jackeline Lobato, Carolina Araújo, Joseph Cuthbertson, Catherine M. Bennett, Antonis Polemitis, Andreas Charalambous, Christiana A. Demetriou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review


Background: Understanding the impact of the burden of COVID-19 is key to successfully navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of a larger investigation on COVID-19 mortality impact, this study aims to estimate the Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) in 17 countries and territories across the world (Australia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cyprus, France, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Peru, Norway, England Wales, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United States [USA]). Methods: Age- and sex-specific COVID-19 death numbers from primary national sources were collected by an international research consortium. The study period was established based on the availability of data from the inception of the pandemic to the end of August 2020. The PYLL for each country were computed using 80 years as the maximum life expectancy. Results: As of August 2020, 442,677 (range: 18–185,083) deaths attributed to COVID-19 were recorded in 17 countries which translated to 4,210,654 (range: 112–1,554,225) PYLL. The average PYLL per death was 8.7 years, with substantial variation ranging from 2.7 years in Australia to 19.3 PYLL in Ukraine. North and South American countries as well as England Wales, Scotland and Sweden experienced the highest PYLL per 100,000 population; whereas Australia, Slovenia and Georgia experienced the lowest. Overall, males experienced higher PYLL rate and higher PYLL per death than females. In most countries, most of the PYLL were observed for people aged over 60 or 65 years, irrespective of sex. Yet, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Israel, Peru, Scotland, Ukraine, and the USA concentrated most PYLL in younger age groups. Conclusions: Our results highlight the role of PYLL as a tool to understand the impact of COVID-19 on demographic groups within and across countries, guiding preventive measures to protect these groups under the ongoing pandemic. Continuous monitoring of PYLL is therefore needed to better understand the burden of COVID-19 in terms of premature mortality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • COVID-19
  • Disease burden
  • PYLL
  • Pandemic
  • Potential years of life lost
  • SARS-CoV-2


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