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COVID-19-related deaths ‘high’ among children, adolescents in Africa – study

Multi-Country African research reports have confirmed High Rates of COVID-19 related deaths among hospitalised children and adolescents.

This is contained in a statement by the External Relations and Communications Manager, Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN), Uzoma Nwofor.

According to the statement, a recently published study involving researchers from the IHVN and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, found that African children and adolescents hospitalised with COVID-19 experience high mortality rates.

The study, titled “Assessment of Clinical Outcomes Among Children and Adolescents Hospitalised with COVID-19 in 6 Sub-Saharan African Countries”, was conducted by a collaboration under the African Forum for Research and Education in Health (or AFREhealth) – a consortium of cross-disciplinary health personnel across Africa.

The statement notes that the AFREhealth study collected data from 25 health facilities across Nigeria, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, and conducted tests on 469 African children and adolescents aged 3 months to 19 years hospitalised with COVID-19 between March and December 2020.

The findings showed a high overall mortality rate of 8.3%, compared with 1% or less reported from Europe and North America.

From the statement, 18 participants had suspected or confirmed multisystem inflammatory syndrome, and 4 of these children died.

The Senior Technical Advisor for Paediatric and Adolescent HIV, in the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria, Dr Nadia Sam-Agudu, said the study has provided important information about COVID-19 among African children, which was not previously available at this scale.

She urged Nigerian authorities to act upon the study’s findings “to protect children; including the expansion of vaccine approvals and procurements to include children, as variants emerging since the study’s completion have either caused more severe disease and/or more cases overall”.

Writing by Emmanuel Kutara; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino and Tony Okerafor