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COVID-19 killed more than three times as many children aged 6 months to 3 years as another 14 diseases in 10 years


Observa Infância/Fiocruz


In 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 killed more than three times as many children aged 6 months to 3 years than the sum of all deaths in this age group over the past decade from diseases that can kill and are preventable by vaccines. The data was collected by the Observatory of Health in Childhood - Observes Childhood (Fiocruz/Unifase) from the Mortality Information System (SIM).

For the analysis, researchers Patricia Boccolini and Cristiano Boccolini considered the Brazilian List of Preventable Deaths for children under 5 years old. Formulated by specialists from various areas related to child health and coordinated by the Ministry of Health, the list includes 14 diseases with fatal outcomes preventable by immunization: neuro-tuberculosis, miliary tuberculosis, neonatal tetanus, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, poliomyelitis, measles, rubella, hepatitis B, mumps, congenital rubella, congenital viral hepatitis, and type B meningococcal meningitis.

Between 2012 and 2021, Brazil recorded 144 deaths of children aged 6 months to 3 years as a result of the diseases on this list, although some of them did not cause any infant deaths. This is the case of polio, eradicated since 1994 in the country. COVID-19, in a two-year period, killed 539 children in this age group. Still, with no prospect of vaccination in Brazil, children from 6 months to 3 years represent about two out of five children under 5 years who died from COVID-19 in the first two years of the pandemic.

Observa Infância

The Observatory of Children’s Health (Observa Infância) is a science communication initiative that aims to provide society with data and information regarding the health of children of up to 5 years of age. The main goal is to expand access to qualified information and to facilitate the understanding of the data obtained from national information systems. The scientific evidence processed by the system is the result of investigations by researchers Patricia and Cristiano Boccolini within the Institute of Scientific and Technological Communication and Information on Health (Icict/Fiocruz) and of the Medical School of Petrópolis (FMP), of the Arthur de Sá Earp Neto Center (Unifase), with resources from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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