In a study from the University of Oxford and elsewhere, scientists found the number of children estimated to have experienced the death of a parent or caregiver as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has climbed to more than 10.5 million globally as of May 1, 2022.
The new study builds on the best available and most conservative data recently published by WHO on excess COVID-19 deaths (14.9 million as of Dec 31, 2021), to establish estimates of orphaned children in every country.
In this study, the team analyzed country-level deaths, fertility rates, and national excess mortality data and used mathematical modeling to develop global estimates based on the WHO estimates, which were the most conservative.
They say the more than 10 million children left without caregivers by COVID-19 will face all kinds of challenges.
Globally, children who experience the loss of a parent or caregiver are at an increased risk of poverty, exploitation and sexual violence or abuse, HIV infection, mental health challenges, and severe distress.
To reduce the risk of such consequences, evidence-based care for children centers around these three components:
Prevent caregiver death through vaccines, containment, and treatment; prepare families to provide kinship care, foster care, and adoption; and protect children from poverty, childhood adversity, and violence.
These strategies will put the programmatic and financial infrastructure in place to secure a better future for children and families around the world.
The team says findings from their earlier report showed that two out of every three affected children are between the ages of 11 and 18 globally.
They can benefit from evidence-based support packages that include parenting programs and economic support, while avoiding placing children in institutional care.
The current findings show the urgent need to invest in response plans focused on children at greatest risk and in the locations most affected.
The White House Presidential Memorandum on the long-term effects of COVID-19 recognizes the need to support children bereaved by COVID in the U.S., based on the estimates of these studies.
Additionally, legislative, and programmatic initiatives at national or city levels are being considered in Peru, Mexico, and Brazil, Eswatini and South Africa.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about new treatment option for COVID-19, and vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19 and death.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about a universal antibody therapy for all COVID-19 variants, and results showing this new oral drug may prevent death from COVID-19.
The study was conducted by Dr. Susan Hillis et al and published in JAMA Pediatrics.
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