An estimated 1,300 babies have died of Covid-19 in Brazil since the pandemic hit the country, even though there's overwhelming evidence that Covid-19 rarely kills young children.
Although the Health Ministry data claimed over 800 children under age 9, including about 500 babies, have died of the virus, experts say the real number is higher because cases are underreported because of a lack of widespread coronavirus testing, reports NBC News quoting BBC.
Dr. Fatima Marinho of the University of São Paolo, a leading epidemiologist who is a senior adviser to the international non-governmental organization Vital Strategies, estimated that the virus has killed 2,060 children under 9, including 1,302 babies. Her estimate is based on the number of excess deaths from an unspecified acute respiratory syndrome during the pandemic.
There is a misconception that children are at zero risk for Covid-19, Marinho told the BBC after she found that there have been 10 times more deaths from an unexplained respiratory syndrome over the past year compared to previous years.
Marinho added that, throughout her research, she has seen a rise in cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome among Brazilian children. The rare syndrome is a newly identified and serious health condition associated with the virus that causes Covid-19 infections. It tends to affect children up to six weeks after they are infected with the coronavirus.
Brazil has become the country with the second-highest number of Covid-19 deaths, more than 361,000 since the pandemic began, the most in the world after the United States.
Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders in English, said Thursday that the government's "failed response" to the pandemic had led to thousands of avoidable deaths.
"More than one year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the failed response in Brazil has caused a humanitarian catastrophe," Dr. Christos Christou, president of Doctors Without Borders, said in a briefing with reporters. "Each week there is a grim new record of deaths and infections — the hospitals are overflowing, and yet there is still no coordinated centralized response."