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Covid-19 is a leading cause of death in children and young people ages 0-19 years in the United States

By Seth Flaxman, Charles Whittaker, Elizaveta Semenova, Theo Rashid, Robbie Parks, Alexandra Blenkinsop, H Juliette T Unwin, Swapnil Mishra, Samir Bhatt, Deepti Gurdasani, Oliver Ratmann

Posted 25 May 2022
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.05.23.22275458

Covid-19 has caused more than 1 million deaths in the US, including at least 1,204 deaths among children and young people (CYP) aged 0-19 years, with 796 occurring in the one year period April 1, 2021 - March 31, 2022. Deaths among US CYP are rare in general, and so we argue here that the mortality burden of Covid-19 in CYP is best understood in the context of all other causes of CYP death. Using publicly available data from CDC WONDER on NCHS's 113 Selected Causes of Death, and comparing to mortality in 2019, the immediate pre-pandemic period, we find that Covid-19 mortality is among the 10 leading causes of death in CYP aged 0-19 years in the US, ranking 8th among all causes of deaths, 5th in disease-related causes of deaths (excluding accidents, assault and suicide), and 1st in deaths caused by infectious or respiratory diseases. Covid-19 deaths constitute 2.3% of the 10 leading causes of death in this age group. Covid-19 caused substantially more deaths in CYP than major vaccine-preventable diseases did historically in the period before vaccines became available. Various factors including underreporting and Covid-19's role as a contributing cause of death from other diseases mean that our estimates may understate the true mortality burden of Covid-19. Our findings underscore the public health relevance of Covid-19 to CYP. In the likely future context of sustained SARS-CoV-2 circulation, pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions will continue to play an important role in limiting transmission of the virus in CYP and mitigating severe disease.

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