A collaborative report published by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Imperial College London, Harvard University, Oxford University, and the University of Cape Town shared worrying data regarding children who lost one or more caregivers to Covid. Partially funded by the American National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study found that between April 2020 and the end of June 2021, more than 140,000 children under the age of 18 lost a parent or other caregiver to the pandemic.
Sharing its findings, the NIH wrote in Pediatrics last Thursday that orphanhood is “a hidden and ongoing secondary tragedy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In total, around 1 in 500 children has lost a parent or a grandparent caregiver to the virus in America.
According to the study, 120,000 US-based children’s primary caregivers (in charge of housing, basic needs and care) died of Covid while 22,000 other children’s secondary caregivers (who provided housing but not most basic needs) passed away after contracting the virus.
The figures are worse when it comes to BAME children who made up 65 percent of those who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic.
One out of every 310 Black children, one out of every 412 Hispanic children and one out of every 612 Asian children experienced orphanhood or death of caregivers.
However, among white children, one out of every 753 had a COVID-19-related loss.
“The magnitude of young people affected is a sobering reminder of the devastating impact of the past 18 months,” said Dr Alexandra Blenkinsop, a researcher from Imperial College London and the co-lead researcher on the study.
“These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed.”
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Researchers from another study published earlier in 2021 estimated that in England and Wales, 8,497 children had been made orphans during the pandemic, either as a direct result of Covid or because of “excess deaths”.
“With the right support, children will learn to manage their grief, but it’s not something that goes away in six months, or a year or two years,” said Tracey Boseley, Child Bereavement UK’s national development lead for the education sector to The Guardian.
“There’s no time limit on it.”