A non-peer-reviewed study that U.S. government scientists cited in asserting COVID-19 is a leading cause of death for children is being updated after inaccuracies were detected.
The preprint paper, published in May, says that COVID-19 has been the fifth-leading cause of death during the pandemic for children aged 1 to 5. The authors, primarily British scientists, also concluded that COVID-19 has been a top cause of death for all children.
“Our findings underscore the importance of continued vaccination campaigns for [children ≥5 years] in the US and for effective Covid-19 vaccines for under 5 year olds,” they wrote.
But the paper has flaws, Seth Flaxman, a professor in Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science, and one of the authors, acknowledged on Twitter on June 19.
“We have received some feedback and criticism along several dimensions. We are planning to update the preprint to take into account some of this feedback,” he said.
The study was cited in three separate presentations across two meetings during the week of June 12 as government officials and expert advisers weighed whether to authorize and recommend vaccines for young children.
Dr. Katherine Fleming-Dutra, a CDC official, twice cited the study while presenting data on how COVID-19 has affected children while speaking to government advisory panels.
“COVID-19 was a leading cause of death among children and adolescents during the pandemic. Previously, we showed data to ACIP that during 2020 COVID-19 was the 11th cause of death among children ages five through 11 years. But this has changed over the course of the pandemic. And looking at data through April 2022, COVID-19 now ranks as the fourth and fifth causes of death among children zero through 19 years of age,” Fleming-Dutra said on June 17 while speaking to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the CDC.