In the most optimistic scenario, where the pandemic leads to a 15% reduction in health services, under-five child deaths could increase by 9.8% (an estimated 1,400 a day) and maternal deaths could increase by 8.3% per month.
In the worst-case scenario, where health services are reduced by 45%, under-five child deaths could increase by 44.7% while maternal deaths could increase by 38.6% per month.
'Increase in child, maternal deaths will be devastating'
The study's authors said, "Our estimates are based on tentative assumptions and represent a wide range of outcomes."
They added, "Nonetheless, they show that, if routine healthcare 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."
'COVID-19 most urgent global crisis children have faced since WWII'
UNICEF's UK's executive director Sacha Deshmukh said, "This pandemic is having far-reaching consequences for all of us, but it is undoubtedly the biggest and most urgent global crisis children have faced since the second world war."
Deshmukh added, "Children's lives are being upended across the globe—their support systems ripped away, their borders closed, their educations lost, their food supply cut off."
India among nations projected to see worst impact
According to the UNICEF, the 10 countries estimated to have the greatest additional number of child deaths in the worst-case scenario include Bangladesh, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.