Update 25 November 2021 It has been brought to our attention that this paper has been covered by a number of media outlets using headlines that minimise the deaths of children. Every child death is a tragedy, and we have reached out to the newspapers concerned to ask that they amend their coverage. We have also amended this article to remove any language that could be interpreted as minimising the deaths we are reporting on.

A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine uses National Child Mortality Database (NCMD) data to shine a light on child mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic, with encouraging results.

A new study shows that in the first year of the pandemic, 25 children and young people in England died of Covid-19. The research, published today in Nature Medicine and based on NCMD data, indicates that 61 children died after testing positive for Covid-19 between March 2020 and February 2021.

However, the study found that in 40% (25) of these cases Covid-19 contributed to the child’s death, giving an overall child mortality rate of 2 per million (0.0002%) across the whole population. The findings emphasise the importance of underlying comorbidities as the main risk factor for death in children and young people, as 76% had chronic health conditions, 64% had multiple comorbidities, and 60% had life-limiting conditions.

This is the first publication in a series of papers highlighting work led by researchers at the University of Bristol, University College London, University of York and the University of Liverpool and drawing on the NCMD’s unique data.

Lead author Dr Clare Smith, NCMD Research Fellow and Registrar in Paediatric Intensive Care, said: “We found that 40 per cent of children and young people who had a positive Covid-19 test at the time of death actually died from Covid-19, emphasising that the risks are lower than simple analyses might suggest.”

Before being accepted by Nature Medicine, a pre-print version of this paper was also cited as evidence by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation contributing to their guidance on Covid-19 vaccination in children aged 12 to 15 years.

Read the full paper on Nature Medicine:

Deaths in Children and Young People in England following SARS-CoV-2 infection during the first pandemic year: an observational study