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Risks to Children under-five in India from COVID-19

By Isabel Frost, Katie Tseng, Stephanie Hauck, Geetanjali Kappor, Aditi Sriram, Arindam Nandi, Ramanan Laxminarayan

Posted 22 May 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.18.20105239

Objective: The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has rapidly emerged to become a global pandemic and is known to cause a high risk to patients over the age of 70 and those with co-morbidities, such as hypertension and diabetes. Though children are at comparatively lower risk compared to adults, the Indian population has a large young demographic that is likely to be at higher risk due to exposure to pollution, malnutrition and poor access to medical care. We aimed to quantify the potential impact of COVID-19 on Indias child population. Methods: We combined district family household survey data with data from the COVID-19 outbreak in China to analyze the potential impact of COVID-19 on children under the age of 5, under three different scenarios; each of which assumed the prevalence of infection to be 0.5%, 1%, or 5%. Results: We find that in the lowest prevalence scenario, across the most populous 18 Indian states, asymptomatic, non-hospitalized symptomatic and hospitalized symptomatic cases could reach 87,200, 412,900 and 31,900, respectively. In a moderate prevalence scenario, these figures reach 174,500, 825,800, and 63,800, and in the worst case, high prevalence scenario these cases could climb as high as 872,200, 4,128,900 and 319,700. Conclusion: These estimates show COVID-19 has the potential to pose a substantial threat to Indias large population of children, particularly those suffering from malnutrition and exposure to indoor air pollution, who may have limited access to health services.

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