The coronavirus epidemic could lead to an increase of 6,000 deaths among children per day, research suggests.
An analysis of UNICEF figures by John Hopkins University estimates that 1.2 million “additional” deaths could occur among young people under the age of five in the next six months.
This is in addition to the 2.5 million children who already die before their fifth birthday every six months.
Experts have warned that “excess” preventable deaths could occur due to interruption of vaccinations, postnatal care and medical treatment.
Without financial support, the pandemic threatens to reverse nearly a decade of progress in ending preventable child deaths around the world, they added.
Initial research suggests that coronavirus is mild in four out of five cases, but it can trigger a respiratory disease called COVID-19.
Coronavirus: “Children’s lives are turned upside down around the world”
“This pandemic has far-reaching consequences for all of us, but it is without doubt the most serious and urgent global crisis that children have experienced since the Second World War,” said Sacha Deshmukh, executive director of the. Unicef UK.
“Children’s lives are turned upside down around the world; their support systems have been ripped apart, their borders closed, their education lost, their food supply cut off.
“Even in the UK, children face the threat of a measles epidemic and school closings put vulnerable children at increased risk.”
Latest news, updates and tips on coronaviruses
Live: follow all the latest UK and worldwide updates
Fact-checker: The number of COVID-19 cases in your region
Explanation: symptoms, last tips and comparison with the flu
More than 117 million children in 37 countries are at risk of missing their measles vaccines as vaccination campaigns are canceled worldwide to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
The UK continues to immunize against measles as part of its childhood immunization schedule, but saw a re-emergence of cases before the coronavirus epidemic.
“We all have a duty to protect children”
Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have examined three different scenarios of how the epidemic could affect 118 low- and middle-income countries.
The 1.2 million additional child deaths represent the worst-case scenario.
This could happen if global health services are cut by about 45 percent, the results show in the Lancet Global Health Journal.
In the most optimistic scenario – where health services are cut by about 15% – 1,400 “additional” deaths are expected to occur every day among those under the age of five, an increase of 9.8% from the ” normal ”.
Child deaths are largely expected to result from malnutrition triggering long-term health problems, as well as a reduction in the treatment of neonatal sepsis and pneumonia.
Nearly 370 million children in 143 countries depend on school meals for a reliable source of nutrition.
Almost 1.3 billion students are out of school due to closings in 177 countries.
With regard to maternal deaths, the most optimistic scenario projects an increase of 8.3%.
In the worst case, there could be an increase of 38.6% per month.
This is in addition to the 144,000 maternal deaths that already occur in many countries in six months.
To help fight this, Unicef UK is today launching its largest ever appeal to address the impact of the coronavirus on the world’s most vulnerable children and families.
The Save Generation Covid call aims to provide essential medical equipment, while combating dangerous misinformation and promoting virus prevention campaigns.
“We cannot allow nearly a decade of progress in tackling preventable child deaths to be reversed under our watch,” said Deshmukh.
“If we have learned anything from this crisis, it is that our lives are interconnected, and we all have a duty to protect children and families around the world.
“We urgently need the British public to support UNICEF UK in our greatest appeal and help us save the COVID generation, and ensure that children around the world survive this crisis – and prosper beyond it.” “
What is coronavirus?
The coronavirus is one of seven strains of a class of viruses known to infect humans.
Others cause everything from colds to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which killed 774 people in its 2002/3 epidemic.
Since the coronavirus epidemic was identified, more than 4.2 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Of these cases, more than 1.4 million are said to have “recovered”.
Globally, the death toll has exceeded 287,000.
The coronavirus is mainly spread face to face via infected droplets expelled in a cough or sneeze.
There is also evidence that it is transmitted in feces and can survive on surfaces.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and mild shortness of breath.
The coronavirus has no “fixed” treatment, with most patients naturally fighting the infection.
Those who require hospitalization receive “supportive care”, such as ventilation, while their immune systems get to work.
Officials urge people to ward off the coronavirus by washing their hands regularly and maintaining social distance.