(HealthDay News) — There was a 35.7% increase in years of life lost (YLL) per COVID-19 death from 2020 to 2021, according to research published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Noting that COVID-19-involved deaths increased among younger persons in 2021 vs 2020, researchers aimed to quantify this downward age shift. YLL associated with leading causes of US death were estimated during matched 10-month periods in 2020 and 2021.

In both 10-month intervals, the 15 leading causes of US death were the same and accounted for about 80% of deaths. Across the intervals, the YLL associated with most of the leading causes of US death were stable.

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Despite a 20.8% decrease in COVID-19 deaths during March to December 2021 vs March to December 2020, there was a 7.4% increase in YLL due to COVID-19 as the age distribution of decedents shifted downward. The median age of COVID-19-involved deaths decreased from 78 to 69 years.

Per COVID-19 death, the YLL increased 35.7%. No change of more than 2.2% was seen for YLL per death for any other cause.

“A shift in COVID-19 mortality to relatively younger people in the second pandemic year contributed to markedly elevated YLL from this increasingly preventable cause of death,” the authors wrote.

One author is the incumbent of an endowed professorship provided to Harvard University by Cephalon.

Abstract/Full Text