The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the food supply and medical systems in low- and moderate-income countries could cause the deaths of at least 250,000 infants and young children, USA Today reports.
Johns Hopkins University researchers “used the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) to estimate additional deaths due to reduced coverage of interventions, and increased prevalence of wasting, under three scenarios and for three time periods,” according to the study, which was published in The Lancet Global Health on Tuesday.
The researchers conclude that COVID-19 could lead to a significant increase in the number of maternal deaths due to a lack of access to antibiotics and clean environments to give birth in, and children will be more likely to die from a lack of antibiotics and malnutrition. They found that in a worst-case scenario, as many as 1.2 million more infants and 57,000 more mothers could die in 118 countries over the course of six months.
“Our estimates are based on tentative assumptions and represent a wide range of outcomes,” the study notes. “Nonetheless, they show that, if routine health care is disrupted and access to food is decreased (as a result of unavoidable shocks, health system collapse, or intentional choices made in responding to the pandemic), the increase in child and maternal deaths will be devastating. We hope these numbers add context as policy makers establish guidelines and allocate resources in the days and months to come.”