During the coronavirus pandemic, teachers, professors and parents worldwide have realised that we are falling behind in education, research and intellectual progress. How much will the pandemic slow the academic progress of each country and of the world? We could borrow and modify a parallel measurement from the medical field to measure the slowdown. ‘Years of potential life lost’ or YPLL is an important calculation in medical epidemiology. Save the life of a baby in a developed country today and you have potentially saved 60 or more years of life. Save the life of an elderly person and you have perhaps given them a few more years to live.