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Data: The World Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

New data shows the mortality rate for children under 5 is continuing to fall, as improvements in nutrition and health reduce the earliest and most tragic deaths.

Why it matters: The continued decline in the youngest deaths is one of humanity's greatest victories, but the COVID-19 pandemic puts some of that progress in danger.

By the numbers: Data released this month by the World Bank shows the mortality rate for children under 5 has fallen by 59% over the past 29 years.

  • That still means 5.2 million children under 5 died in 2019 — or more than 14,000 each day.
  • But as recently as 1960, nearly 1 out of every 5 children globally died before their 5th birthday. In 1800, it was nearly 1 out of every 2.

Of note: Child mortality is increasingly concentrated in a few geographic areas, especially sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 13 children die before turning 5.

The catch: Development experts worry COVID-19 could slow or even reverse progress on child mortality, less because of the virus itself than because the pandemic may disrupt distribution of needed medicine and food.

The bottom line: It's entirely reasonable to look at the state of the world today and feel depressed. But there are millions of children alive today who will live to see their 5th birthday and many more, because they were born in 2020 and not 30 years ago. That matters, too.

Go deeper: Over 513,000 U.S. teens, children have been diagnosed with COVID-19

Go deeper

Dec 14, 2020 - Health

U.S. surpasses 300,000 coronavirus deaths

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. topped 300,000 coronavirus deaths on Monday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The U.S. is averaging 2,427 deaths a day — 300 more fatalities per day than during the pandemic's initial peak in the spring, per the COVID Tracking Project. It took less than three months for the U.S. to record another 100,000 deaths.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

3 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

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