How Many Years of Life Does the Average Covid-19 Victim Lose?

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported on a study suggesting that the average person who dies of Covid-19 loses tens years of life. I looked up the study, and left the following comment on the study’s site (which, to the author’s credit, they have up to get instant peer review), after noticing that the author’s seem to assume that the victims were previously as healthy as their demographic average:

Two people who are coded with the same disease could be in vastly different circumstances. We know the virus has taken a huge toll on nursing homes.  An 82 year old with heart disease who lives in a nursing home is not similarly-situated, life expectancy-wise, to an 82 year old who is otherwise doing well and is self-sufficient. The former would assumedly be much more likely to succumb to Covid-19 than the latter. Similarly, “otherwise-healthy” people who succumb to Covid-19 can be expected to, on average, be more likely to have an undiagnosed health issue than those who don’t. Is that taken into account? If neither of these are taken into account, the effect on life expectancy must be reduced.

Now, I see you’ve responded [to another commenter[ that this should NOT have a major effect on life expectancy. I don’t see how you can be so confident. A *huge* percentage of deaths, wildly disproportionate, have been in nursing (“care”) homes… You simply can’t compare an otherwise healthy 82 year old with heart disease to someone whose heart disease so enfeebles him or her that they need to be in a nursing home.

A day later, another commenter wrote:

I’m perplexed by this study. How can it be assumed that the Covid victims would have lived the average life expectancy unless there’s no or minimal standard deviation around that average? Wouldn’t it be more compelling to compare to the minimum life expectancy of each cohort? Otherwise, you are implicitly assuming that the people who are dying are more or less representative of the average, which seems like a major assumption that, if untrue, would render your conclusions pretty useless. I

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