Deaths in children and young people in England after SARS-CoV-2 infection during the first pandemic year

Nat Med. 2022 Jan;28(1):185-192. doi: 10.1038/s41591-021-01578-1. Epub 2021 Nov 11.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is rarely fatal in children and young people (CYP, <18 years old), but quantifying the risk of death is challenging because CYP are often infected with SARS-CoV-2 exhibiting no or minimal symptoms. To distinguish between CYP who died as a result of SARS-CoV-2 infection and those who died of another cause but were coincidentally infected with the virus, we undertook a clinical review of all CYP deaths with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test from March 2020 to February 2021. The predominant SARS-CoV-2 variants were wild-type and Alpha. Here we show that, of 12,023,568 CYP living in England, 3,105 died, including 61 who were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Of these deaths, 25 were due to SARS-CoV-2 infection (mortality rate, two per million), including 22 due to coronavirus disease 2019-the clinical disease associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection-and 3 were due to pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2. In total, 99.995% of CYP with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test survived. CYP older than 10 years, Asian and Black ethnic backgrounds and comorbidities were over-represented in SARS-CoV-2-related deaths compared with other CYP deaths. These results are important for guiding decisions on shielding and vaccinating children. New variants might have different mortality risks and should be evaluated in a similar way.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data
  • Black People / statistics & numerical data
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / ethnology
  • COVID-19 / mortality*
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England / epidemiology
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / ethnology
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / mortality*
  • White People / statistics & numerical data

Supplementary concepts

  • pediatric multisystem inflammatory disease, COVID-19 related