COVID-19’s Impact Unclear as Child Mortality Rates Remain 'Intolerably High'

More than 5 million children died before their fifth birthday in 2020, as the world remains “significantly off track” to meet the Sustainable Development Goals to end preventable child deaths, according to the latest findings released this week by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.

  • COVID-19’s impact: The data available so far does not show a reversal in child mortality due to the pandemic—but more data are needed to understand the full picture, says The World Bank. There may be fewer injuries and infectious disease cases because of lockdowns, but the impact of factors like missed vaccinations may not be seen till later. 
  • Major geographical disparities: Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia bear 82% of the global burden of under-5 deaths. An estimated 1 in every 14 children in Sub-Saharan Africa die before reaching age 5—15 times higher than the risk in high-income countries.
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