While the COVID-19 pandemic will increase mortality due to the virus, it is also likely to increase mortality indirectly. In this study, its estimated the additional maternal and under-5 child deaths resulting from the potential disruption of health systems and decreased access to food could increase child mortality by 45 percent and kill 1.2 million children.
Lots of lockdown sceptics have focused on economic costs of the lockdown. But there are very real negative medical and societal ramifications as well. Missed vaccines, check ups, and months/years of learning. Those have not been given enough coverage or sufficient weight.
More than one million children under five and 60,000 more mothers could die in the next six months alone as a result of disruptions to health services caused by the pandemic in low and middle income countries, according to the new study.
The figures are the worst-case scenario envisaged by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who analysed what the repercussions might be across 118 countries if there is a similar impact to maternal and child health services as experienced in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak.
The numbers represent a 45 per cent increase on existing child mortality levels per month, and a 39 per cent increase in maternal deaths.
The team, led by Timothy Roberton and Emily Carter, said the estimates were based on tentative assumptions and represent a wide range of outcomes.