Every day, Covid-19 is responsible for the death of two children under 5 in Brazil

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In Brazil, Covid-19 is responsible for the death of two children under the age of 5 every day, since the beginning of the pandemic. In total, 599 patients in this age group died from the disease in 2020 alone. That number grew to 840 in 2021, as the lethality of the infection increased across the population. In the first two years of the health crisis, 1,439 children under 5 years of age died from Covid-19 in the country. The Northeast region concentrates almost half of these deaths, according to data collected in the Mortality Information System (SIM) and reviewed by the Ministry of Health and state and municipal health departments.

Preliminary data released by the Epidemiological Bulletin of the Ministry of Health confirm that the average of two daily deaths remains in 2022. Between January and June 13 of this year, the country recorded 291 deaths from Covid-19 among the population under 5 years old.

Read too: Influenza x Covid-19: tips for approaching the flu syndrome

This information was collected, analyzed and cross-referenced by the Observatório de Saúde na Infância – Observa Infância, which brings together researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and the Arthur de Sá Earp Neto University Center (Unifase), linked to the Center for Information, Public Policies and Inclusion (NIPPIS).

The research is being carried out with financial resources from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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preventable deaths

“Our job is to ask these bases what society cannot ignore: what kills our children? What can we do to prevent these deaths?”, said Patrícia Boccolini, one of the researchers responsible for the survey.

The researchers investigate factors that can impact vaccination coverage, such as access to Basic Health Care and social protection programs, such as Bolsa Família and Auxílio Brasil.

“From large national databases, we look at each of the more than 5,500 Brazilian municipalities. What we perceive is that there is a lot of inequality in relation to vaccination coverage. And this inequality is mainly related to access to Primary Care. We noticed that in places where Primary Care does not reach, the drop in vaccination coverage is more pronounced”, said Patrícia Boccolini.

Vulnerability

The analysis of the first two years of the pandemic in Brazil shows that children aged 29 days to 1 year are the most vulnerable, accounting for almost half of the deaths recorded among children under 5 years of age.

The researcher highlighted that it is necessary to accelerate the processes that lead to the vaccination of this public. “It takes speed to bring vaccine protection to babies and children, especially from 6 months to 3 years. Every day that we go without a vaccine against Covid-19 for children under 5, Brazil loses two children,” she said.

According to Cristiano Boccolini, the data refer to infant deaths in which Covid-19 was recorded as the underlying cause and to those in which the disease is one of the causes of death, that is, the infection worsened some pre-existing risk condition or was associated with the main cause of death.

“In the analysis of Observa Infância, we also considered deaths in which Covid-19 worsened a pre-existing condition. This means that while not all of these children died from Covid-19, they all died from the disease.”

numbers around the world

The survey indicated that not all countries record deaths from Covid-19 with information by age group. Until June 2022, data collected by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in 91 countries reveal that the disease was the basic cause of death of 5,376 children under five years of age in the world. And Brazil accounts for about one in five of these deaths, as indicated by Observa Infância.

Covid-19 in children can cause acute complications, such as viral or bacterial infections of the upper and lower airways, myocarditis (incidence 7.4 times higher between 16 and 24 years old and 36.8 times higher in children under 16 years old). ), arrhythmia, hepatitis, parotitis and pancreatitis, among others.

Late complications also occur and the main one is the Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PSIM), a disease that usually starts with fever and abdominal pain and mainly affects the cardiovascular system with shock.

Other complications, such as the so-called long Covid, have also been described in this group, but more studies are still needed to assess their impact in this age group.

*This text was reviewed by the medical team of the PEBMED Portal.

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# Observa Infância gathers data on preventable deaths of Brazilian children. ICICT. Available at: https://www.icict.fiocruz.br/node/6939 # Covid-19 kills two children under 5 a day in Brazil. Brazil Agency. Available at: https://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/saude/noticia/2022-06/covid-19-mata-duas-criancas-menores-de-5-anos-por-dia-no-brasil