COVID-19 kills two children under five in Brazil every day

Scientists advocate efforts to speed up vaccination for this age group

Published in 29/06/2022 - 11:10 By Alana Gandra - Rio de Janeiro

COVID-19 has killed two children under five years old per day in Brazil since the beginning of the pandemic. In all, 599 kids within this age group died from COVID-19 in 2020. This number rose to 840 in 2021, when the lethality of the disease increased across all Brazilians. In the first two years of the outbreak, 1,439 kids aged up to five died from COVID-19 in the country. Nearly half of the cases are reported in the Northeast.

Preliminary data from the epidemiological report released by the Ministry of Health confirm that the average of two fatalities per day has held steady this year. Between January and June 13, 2022, Brazil recorded 291 COVID-19–related deaths among kids under five.

Figures for 2020 and 2021 were assessed by Coordinators Cristiano Boccolini and Patricia Boccolini at the health observatory of research foundation Fiocruz. Their team plans to expand access to qualified information and to facilitate the understanding of data from national networks.

Vulnerability

Based on data for the first two years of the pandemic in Brazil, children from 29 days to one year of age are the most vulnerable. “Babies in this age group account for nearly half of fatalities recorded among children under five,” said Patricia Boccolini.

Vaccination in this age group should be accelerated, she argued. “We must speed up the process and bring inoculation to babies and children, especially those six months to three years old. Each day we go without the COVID-19 vaccine for children under five, Brazil loses two children,” she noted.

According to Cristiano Boccolini, the data refer to infant deaths in which COVID-19 was recorded as the underlying cause as well as those in which the disease is among the causes of death—i. e. the infection aggravated some pre-existing condition or was linked to the main cause of death. “Although not all of these children died of COVID-19, they all died with COVID-19,” he explained.

Worldwide

Data collected by Unicef in 91 countries reveal that COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death of 5,376 children under five years of age worldwide by June 2022. Brazil is reported to accounts for about one in five of such deaths.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Lílian Beraldo

Latest news