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Researchers from the FMUSP Pediatrics Department reinforce the need to reclassify the pandemic as a syndemic

An unprecedented study, promoted by the Department of Pediatrics of the Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo (FMUSP), points out that comorbidities and socioeconomic vulnerabilities increase the risk of mortality of children and teenagers hospitalized by Covid-19 in Brazil.

Published as a pre-print and waiting review for publication in an international scientific journal, the article performed a statistical analysis of data from the Ministry of Health on 5,857 patients under 20 years of age hospitalized by Covid-19.

In comparison with previously healthy patients, the study showed that there is a higher mortality from Covid-19 in children with chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD). Especially when associated with patients with more than one chronic disease, the risk of mortality presented was almost ten times higher.

In addition, the study found higher mortality among mixed race, indigenous and asian children, when compared to white children. Residents from the North and Northeast regions or from cities with less socioeconomic development also had a greater chance of death.

The results obtained by the work lead the researchers to propose the reclassification of Covid-19 as a syndemic, that is, the synergism of two health conditions (Covid-19 and NCD), which mutually enhance each other and are driven by structural socioeconomic inequalities.

“Our results are relevant to the formulation of public health policies, since the country is still planning its vaccination strategy and trying to find the best way to face the health challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic”, says Prof. Alexandre Archanjo Ferraro, Associate of the Department of Pediatrics at FMUSP, and one of the researchers in the study.

It’s worth mentioning that, as the study itself reinforces, children and teenagers are mostly spared by Covid-19, with a low severity and mortality rate compared to the adult age group.

“Approaching Covid-19 as part of a syndemic invites a broader vision that goes beyond biomedical solutions and encompasses the socioeconomic environment that promotes the grouping and interaction with NCDs. Adequate treatment, preventive measures and vaccination are not enough: government intervention is necessary to face the challenge of changing the disparities that are structurally rooted in Brazilian society ”, concludes Braian Sousa, researcher of the study.