A new study has revealed that 250,000 babies and young children may die indirectly due to COVID-19. According to researchers at John Hopkins University, poor medical systems and lack of food due to the pandemic may cost the lives of babies, young children, and mothers in low and moderate-income countries over the next six months.

Published in The Lancet Global Health, the study has shown the number of deaths that could be expected as a result of the pandemic’s impact on the global food supply and health care systems. Based on the study, the absence of childbirth interventions like antibiotics and clean birth environments could lead to more maternal deaths in the coming months.

The study has also revealed that lack of nutrition and the unavailability of antibiotics for childhood illnesses like sepsis, pneumonia, and diarrhea could lead to up to 1.2 million deaths among babies and 57,000 deaths among mothers across 118 countries around the world.

The study has described the indirect effects of COVID-19 as “devastating,” saying these findings should urge lawmakers to prepare for the worst in the coming months. “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,” the researchers said. “We hope these numbers add context as policymakers establish guidelines and allocate resources in the days and months to come.”

In a separate study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have also found that 3 in every 4 children who had severe COVID-19 had no known health conditions that might raise their risk, suggesting that even healthy children could have severe immune reactions to the deadly coronavirus.

After observing children hospitalized in New York due to COVID-19, the researchers have found that children could have a dangerous reaction to the virus called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (in children) (MIS-C). This reaction may lead to severe digestive and heart conditions, and even death.

“There is concern that children meeting current diagnostic criteria for MIS-C are the ‘top of the iceberg,’ and a bigger problem may be lurking below the waterline,” said Dr. Michael Levin, chair in pediatrics and International Child Health at Imperial College in London.

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