Average Covid-19 victim dies years before they otherwise would
20 July 2021
What was claimed
The average age of Covid-19 deaths is higher than the average life expectancy, which means that people who get Covid live longer.
This isn’t how life expectancy works. Life expectancy is an average, pulled down by people who die young. As you age, your life expectancy increases. People dying from Covid-19 lose about a decade of life on average.
In an allegedly leaked WhatsApp message, shared with the BBC by the Prime Minister’s former chief political adviser Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson appears to say “get Covid and live longer”, alluding to the average age of Covid-19 deaths.
Screenshots of the supposed message from Mr Johnson, shared on Twitter and dated 15 October 2020, read: “I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on Covid fatalities. The median age is 82 - 81 for men 85 for women.
“That is above life expectancy. So get Covid and live longer.”
While Downing Street has denied other claims made by Mr Cummings, they have so far not denied that the message was sent by Mr Johnson.
The idea that people who die of Covid have lived longer than average fails to appreciate these are the very people who would have been expected to live much longer. As we have written before, people dying of Covid lose about a decade of life, on average.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) does not regularly publish information on the average age of Covid-19 deaths but, as we have written before, a response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request published in January 2021 shows that between the week ending 9 October, 2020, and the week ending 1 January, 2021, the median age of deaths involving Covid-19 was 83.
Data published through a different FOI request to the ONS shows that the median age of Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales, up to and including 2 October, 2020, was also 83.
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