J Korean Med Sci.  2020 Aug;35(32):e300. 10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e300.

Years of Life Lost Attributable to COVID-19 in High-incidence Countries

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine, Ulsan University Hospital, Ulsan, Korea
  • 4Department of Health Care Policy Research, Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, Sejong, Korea
  • 5Big Data Department, National Health Insurance Service, Wonju, Korea
  • 6Department of Public Health, Graduate School, Korea University, Seoul, Korea
  • 7Department of Preventive Medicine, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 8Department of Preventive Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a major public health problem of international concern. It is important to estimate its impact of COVID-19 for health policy decision-making. We estimated the years of life lost (YLLs) due to COVID-19 in high-incidence countries.
We collected the YLLs due to COVID-19 in 30 high-incidence countries as of April 13, 2020 and followed up as of July 14, 2020. Incidence and mortality were collected using each country's formal reports, articles, and other electronic sources. The life expectancy of Japanese females by age and the UN population data were used to calculate YLLs in total and per 100,000.
As of April 22, 2020, there were 1,699,574 YLLs due to COVID-19 in 30 high-incidence countries. On July 14, 2020, this increased to 4,072,325. Both on April 22 and July 14, the total YLLs due to COVID-19 was highest in the USA (April 22, 534,481 YLLs; July 14, 1,199,510 YLLs), and the YLLs per 100,000 population was highest in Belgium (April 22, 868.12 YLLs/100,000; July 14, 1,593.72 YLLs/100,000). YLLs due to COVID-19 were higher among males than among females and higher in those aged ≥ 60 years than in younger individuals. Belgium had the highest proportion of YLLs attributable to COVID-19 as a proportion of the total YLLs and the highest disability-adjusted life years per 100,000 population.
This study estimated YLLs due to COVID-19 in 30 countries. COVID-19 is a high burden in the USA and Belgium, among males and the elderly. The YLLs are very closely related with the incidence as well as the mortality. This highlights the importance of the early detection of incident case that minimizes severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 fatality.


COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Burden of Disease; Years of Life Lost; Disability-Adjusted Life Years
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