COVID-19 – Weekly Deaths Below 2019 Levels But Growing Implications For Survivors?

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The latest statistics confirm that recent weekly deaths remain below 2019 levels. Our XPS COVID-19 Tracker shows that total number of deaths of those aged under 45 up to 26 June 2020 are only marginally higher than the same period in 2019. This is of relevance for pension schemes because it highlights that COVID-19 deaths are skewing even more to the older ages suggesting mature pension scheme populations are likely to be more at risk from the impacts of COVID-19.

Our Tracker is predicting such a pattern to continue when compared to the grey shaded area, which represents the 2019 comparator.

But what about further into the future? Can we draw comparators about long term health effects from historic pandemics? There are studies that suggest that survivors of the Spanish flu pandemic were more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease later in life. Is COVID-19 creating a disease prone subpopulation of survivors? There are already reports of potentially permanent lung scarring for COVID-19 survivors, even for those who showed no symptoms.

The impact of this on future longevity will depend on many factors, but key will be medical treatments and whether there is the money available to fund them. There are lots of unknowns but what is clear is that trustees and sponsors of pension schemes should be aware of how various scenarios might impact lifestyles and health provision, and therefore their members, as part of an effective risk management framework.

If you would like more information or to comment please contact Matthew Plail