Lockdowns helped Australian life expectancy increase more than any other country throughout 2020 and make it “one of the safest places in the world”, a new study has found.

Researchers found life expectancy increased by 0.7 years for both males and females in Australia between 2019 and 2020.

That compares with an average increase year-to-year of between 0.09 and 0.14 years between 2015 and 2019.

The Australian National University also found this was the largest increase of any country featured in its study by some distance.

Denmark and Norway were closest, experiencing 0.1 and 0.2-year increases for females and males respectively.

America saw a huge drop in life expectancy, falling by 1.7 years and 2.2 years for females and males respectively.

Co-author Professor Vladimir Canudas-Romo said the quick imposition of border closures and lockdowns combined with more recent high vaccine uptake helped keep Australia safe.

He also said both infectious and non-infectious diseases were effectively tackled by the lockdowns.

“Australia was in a unique position to be able to close borders to the rest of the world. Now with the strong compliance on vaccinations, we are likely to be one of the safest places in the world,” Professor Canudas-Romo said.

“During the 1918 Spanish flu, attempts were made to close borders. Yet, once ports opened, the lack of a vaccination meant the virus spread with fatal effects. With modern-day vaccines, Australia has been able to escape this deadly fate.”

Professor Canudas-Romo said deaths due to cancer and cardiovascular diseases dropped, while a 20 per cent decline was found for pneumonia and influenza deaths.

The study also found a “large reduction” in road traffic accidents, caused by a decline in social mobility.


Alex Mitchell
(Australian Associated Press)