2021-08-24

Research: The economic downturn due to COVID-19 may cause an additional 267,000 infant deaths in 2020

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Research: The economic downturn due to COVID-19 may cause an additional 267,000 infant deaths in 2020

The study predicts that the global economy will shrink by nearly 5% in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the number of people living in poverty will increase by 1.2 Billion people. And unlike economic crises in high-income countries, these shocks in low-income countries usually increase the deaths of vulnerable groups, such as infants and young children and the elderly.

Previously published predictions about the possible impact of the pandemic on indirect deaths (those not caused by COVID-19 itself) focused on the assumed damage to basic health services.

The authors of this study turned to study the impact of the overall “income shock” represented by the expected decline in gross domestic product (GDP) on the survival of children under 12 months in low- and middle-income countries.

They linked the per capita GDP data reported in the Demographic and Health Survey from 1985 to 2018 to 5.2 million births. The majority (82%) of these births were in low-income and lower-middle-income countries.

Then they applied the International Monetary Fund’s economic growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020 to predict the impact of the 2020 recession on infant deaths in 128 countries. Their calculations show that the number of infant deaths in low- and middle-income countries will increase by 267,208 in 2020, which is equivalent to an increase in the expected number of infant deaths that year by 7%.

South Asia (8 countries) has the highest estimated number of infant deaths, with a total of 113,141, most of which are estimated to be in India (99642). India has the highest number of births per year (24,238,000), and the economic gap in 2020 is expected to be particularly large, at -17.3%.

The author pointed out that after the 2009 financial crisis, an estimated 28,000-50,000 infants died in excess in Africa. In comparison, the estimated number for 2020 is 82,239, reflecting a larger gap in the estimated GDP caused by the pandemic.

They accepted several limitations of their forecasts, including their calculations borrowed from retrospective data, and they only considered the short-term impact of GDP fluctuations on infant mortality.

Moreover, the difference between the economic growth forecasts for October 2019 and October 2020 is interpreted as representing only the impact of the pandemic. The researchers explained that although some countries have experienced other major shocks, such as natural disasters or political crises, they may have also affected national income levels.

They wrote: “Regardless of the exact number of predicted deaths, the large number of excess infant deaths estimated in our analysis emphasizes the vulnerability of this age group to negative aggregate income shocks, such as those caused by COVID- The shock caused by the 19 pandemic.”

They explained: “There are several mechanisms that may have contributed to the increase in mortality among 0-1 year olds: poverty at the family level will lead to infant nutrition and nursing practices Worsening and reducing the ability to access health services, and the economic crisis may also affect the supply and quality of services provided by the health system.

They added that although they focus on the possible impact on infant survival, other disadvantages Groups may also be affected.”

“As countries, health systems, and the wider global community continue to work to prevent and treat COVID-19, we should also consider providing resources to stabilize health systems and strengthen social security Internet to reduce the impact of the pandemic and related lockdown policies on people, society and the economy,” they concluded.