Nearly 3 Billion quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost due to government imposed COVID restrictions globally

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A large literature has documented the high global mortality and mental health burden associated with the current Covid-19 pandemic. In this paper, we combine newly collected data on subjective reductions in the quality of life with the latest data on Covid-19 restrictions to quantify the total number of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost due to government imposed restrictions globally. Our estimates suggest a total loss of 2980 (95% 2764, 3198) million QALYs as of September 6th 2021, with the highest burden absolute burden in lower and upper middle income countries. QALY losses appear to be particularly large for closures of schools and daycares as well as restaurants and bars, and seem relatively small for wearing masks in public and closure of fitness facilities.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

Funding Statement

We received no external funding for any aspect of the submitted work.

Author Declarations

I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.


The details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:

Ethical clearance for this study was obtained from the Ethics Committee Northwest and Central Switzerland (EKNZ). Due to the absence of direct contact with human subjects and lack of identifiable data the study was classified as non-human subjects research (EKNZ Req. 2021.00616).

All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.


I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).


I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.


Paper in collection COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv

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