Rio de Janeiro: Worried about her toddler’s unbreakable fever, the woman took Leticia to the hospital. Children Killed By COVID-19 was the bad news from the doctors. However, they were encouraging, remembering that children rarely experience severe symptoms, according to Ariani Roque Marinheiro, the mum.
Marinheiro, 33, said, “It was too fast, and she was gone.” “To me, she was everything.”
According to Brazil’s health ministry, 832 children aged 5 and under have died as a result of the pandemic since it began. Since countries monitor the virus’s effects differently, comparable evidence is sparse, although 139 children aged 4 and under have died in the United States, which has a much greater population than Brazil and a higher cumulative toll from COVID-19.
And, according to Dr. Fátima Marinho, an epidemiologist at the University of So Paulo, Brazil’s official number of child deaths is possibly undercounted due to a lack of widespread monitoring, which suggests more cases go undiagnosed.
According to Marinho, who is heading a report that is tallying the toll of children based on both reported and confirmed cases, more than 2,200 children under the age of five have died since the pandemic began, including more than 1,600 babies under the age of a year.
“We are seeing a significant effect on children,” Marinho said. “It’s a ridiculously high figure. We haven’t seen anything like it somewhere else on the planet.”
Experts from Brazil, Europe, and the United States believe that the number of children who died from COVID-19 in Brazil was unusually high.
“Those figures are startling. Dr. Sean O’Leary, the vice-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases and a pediatric infectious disease expert at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, said, “That’s a lot higher than what we’re doing in the United States.” “Those percentages are quite a bit larger by some of the steps we use here in the United States.”
There is little information on the effect of virus variants on babies and infants, which scientists believe are contributing to more serious COVID cases in young, stable adults and pushing up the toll in Brazil.
Experts say, however, that the version tends to be linked to higher mortality risk in pregnant women. According to Dr. André Ricardo Ribas Freitas, an epidemiologist at So Leopoldo Mandic College in Campinas who led a recent report on the effects of the variant, some women with COVID are giving birth to stillborn or premature babies who are still infected with the virus.
Ribas Freitas said, “We can already confirm that the P.1 variant is even more serious in pregnant women.” “And, in many cases, if the pregnant mother is infected with the infection, the infant does not survive or both of them may die.”
Experts believe that a lack of prompt and sufficient health services for children after they become sick is a factor in the death toll. Early screening has been critical in the rehabilitation of children afflicted with the infection in the United States and Europe, according to researchers. Overworked doctors in Brazil have often been late in confirming infections in infants, according to Marinho.
The death rate for children who get COVID-19 remains very low, according to Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, director of critical care at Texas Children’s Hospital, but children living in countries with uneven medical care are at greater risk.
“A kid who needs a little oxygen today could end up on a ventilator next week if they don’t get the oxygen and steroid that we offer early in the disease process,” Shekerdemian said. “So, in my world, a quick hospitalization could result in a child having medical attention that they can’t get if there’s a pause in getting treatment.”
When compared to results from China, Europe, and North America, a study released in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal in January showed that children in Brazil and four other Latin American countries developed more serious types of COVID-19 and more cases of the multisystem inflammatory syndrome, an unusual and intense immune reaction to the virus.
Millions of Brazilians living in impoverished areas had insufficient access to basic health care even before the pandemic started. The infrastructure has been overburdened in recent months when an influx of patients has poured into critical care units, resulting in a chronic lack of beds.
Dr. Ana Luisa Pacheco, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the Heitor Vieira Dourado Tropical Medicine Foundation in Manaus, said, “There is a limit to entry for many.” “It can take three to four hours by sea to get to a hospital for certain children.”
Children’s cases have increased as a result of President Jair Bolsonaro’s cavalier reaction to the pandemic and his government’s failure to take aggressive action to encourage social distancing, according to researchers. A sluggish economy has left millions of people without enough money or food, causing many to face illness when looking for jobs.
Any of the children who died as a result of the outbreak had pre-existing medical conditions that made them more susceptible. Nonetheless, Marinho reports that they account for just over a quarter of all deaths in children under the age of ten. This means that in Brazil, even stable children are at risk of contracting the infection.
Leticia Marinheiro was one of these children, according to her mother. She had never been ill before, Marinheiro said, as a stable kid who had just begun walking.
Marinheiro, who was sick with her husband Diego, 39, claims Leticia would have survived if her condition had been handled more quickly.
She remembered pleading for further examinations to be performed. Doctors had not thoroughly checked Leticia’s lungs four days after she was admitted to the hospital, she said.
Marinheiro is also baffled as to how her family became ill. Leticia, the couple’s long-awaited first child, had been held at home and hidden from everyone. Even though he worked to keep the family financially alive, her husband, a retailer of hair salon supplies, had been careful to prevent contact with customers.
Marinheiro’s life has been left with a gaping void after her daughter died suddenly. She hopes other parents would stop underestimating the risks of the epidemic that took Leticia away from her as the pandemic continues, she says. Families hold birthday parties for children in her neighborhood, and officials seek to reopen schools.