Over 5 million children worldwide have lost a parent to Covid-19: study – News

Two out of three orphaned children are teenagers between the ages of 10 and 17

Reuters file for information only

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Fri 25 Feb 2022, 10:13

According to a new study that includes India, Iran and 18 other countries, the number of children believed to have experienced the death of a parent or caregiver as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has climbed to more than 5.2 million worldwide.

Published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, the study says estimates of the number of children affected by orphanage and caregiver deaths associated with Covid-19 nearly doubled in the six months from May 1 2021 to October 31, 2021, compared to the amount after the first 14 months of the pandemic (March 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021).

Overall, the study suggests that two out of three orphaned children are teenagers between the ages of 10 and 17. Moreover, in line with evidence that Covid-19 deaths disproportionately affect men, three out of four children worldwide who experienced the death of a parent during the pandemic lost their father.

The countries covered by the study are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, England and Wales, France, Germany, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Spain, United States. and Zimbabwe.

The study indicates that overall, children who experience the loss of a caregiver have an increased risk of poverty, sexual exploitation and violence or abuse, HIV infection, health problems mental health and severe distress and, in some contexts, increased vulnerability to gang membership and violence. extremism.

Researchers call for evidence-based programs for children who have been orphaned to be urgently incorporated into pandemic response efforts, including programs that support economic strengthening, better community and family support, and programs that avoid placing children in institutions.

The study’s lead author, Susan Hillis, who completed the research during her tenure at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says: “We estimate that for every person reported dead from pandemic, a child remains an orphan or loses a caregiver. This equates to one child every six seconds facing an increased risk of adversity throughout their life unless they receive appropriate support in time”.

“Thus, support for orphaned children must be immediately integrated into each national Covid-19 response plan. Such support should focus on three essential components: preventing the death of caregivers through equitable vaccination coverage, containment and treatment against Covid-19; preparing safe and caring families to support affected children (eg through kinship care, foster care and adoption); and protect children using evidence-based strategies to reduce the risk of poverty, childhood adversity and violence”.


Before the pandemic, there were approximately 140 million orphaned children worldwide. The impact of the pandemic on the orphanage was first revealed in a study published in July 2021, which estimated that 1.5 million children had experienced the death of a parent or caregiver between March 2020 and April 2021 following Covid-19.

The new study raises that estimate to more than 2.7 million children for the same period, recalculating the figures from updated Covid-19 death figures as well as excess mortality data to take into account associated indirect deaths. to the pandemic (July 2021 estimates: 1,562,000 children vs latest estimates: 2,737,300 children).

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