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COVID-19 kills two children under 5 years old every day in Brazil


Bel Levy (Observa Infância)


Since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 has been killing two children under 5 years old every day in Brazil. Overall, 599 children this age died of COVID-19 in 2020. In 2021, when the lethality of the disease increased among the entire population, the number of children victims of the virus jumped to 840. A total of 1,439 children below 5 years old died of COVID-19 in the country during the first two years of the pandemic. The Northeast Region is home to almost half these deaths.

Between January and June 13, Brazil recorded 291 deaths from COVID-19 among children under 5 years old

The data from 2020 and 2021, analyzed by the coordinators of “Observa Infância” (Observe Childhood, in free translation), Cristiano Boccolini and Patricia Boccolini, were collected through the Mortality Information System (SIM, in the acronym in Portuguese) and were revised by the Ministry of Health and by state and municipal health secretary’s offices. Preliminary data released by the Epidemiological Bulletin of the Ministry of Health show that the average of two deaths per day still applies to 2022. Between January and June 13, 2022, Brazil recorded a total of 291 deaths by COVID-19 of children under 5.

The analysis of the first two years of the pandemic in Brazil shows that children between 29 days and 1 year old are the most vulnerable. “Babies in this age group account for almost half the deaths recorded among children below 5 years of age. We must quickly provide protection through vaccines to babies and children, especially from 6 months to 3 years old. Every day without a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 means a day in which Brazil loses two children”, Patricia Boccolini states.

Cristiano Boccolini explained that the data refer to infant deaths for which COVID-19 was recorded as base cause and to those for which the disease was one of the causes of death, that is, the infection worsened a pre-existing risk condition or was associated with the main cause of death. “In the analysis of Observa Infância, we also took into account the deaths in which COVID-19 worsened a pre-existing issue. This means that even though not all these children died of COVID-19, they all died with COVID-19”, the researcher clarified.

Not all countries record COVID-19 deaths with information by age group. Up to June 2022, data collected by the Unicef in 91 countries show that the disease was the base cause of death of 5,376 children below age 5 all over the world. Brazil accounts for about 1 out of every 5 of these deaths.

The “Observa Infância” is a science communication initiative that aims to provide the 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 comprehension of the data obtained from national information systems. 

The scientific evidence processed by the system are 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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