A new study estimates that at least 5.2 million children worldwide have lost a parent or other caregiver to Covid-19 in the first 19 months of the pandemic.
“Children are suffering a lot right now and need our help,” said Susan Hillis, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet on Thursday.
The study was based on data from 20 countries including India, the US and Peru and was completed by an international research team that included experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and several colleges and universities.
He warns that a child who has lost a parent or guardian may suffer negative consequences. including an increased risk of poverty, sexual abuse, mental health problems, and severe stress.
An earlier study covering the first 13 months of the pandemic estimated 1.5 million affected children. The new figure is much higher, the researchers say, not only because it adds another six months of data, but also because the first estimate was significantly underestimated. Using updated data on Covid-related deaths, the researchers now estimate that at least 2.7 million children lost a parent or guardian within the first 13 months.
The new study covers data up to October 2021 and does not include the latest spike in Omicron variant infections, which no doubt added to the toll.
“It took 10 years for five million children to be orphaned by HIV/AIDS, while the same number were orphaned by Covid-19 in just two years.” — Lorraine Sherr, professor of psychology at University College London and writer. research,” the statement said.
Davion Johnson, 11, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, is one of millions of children who have lost a parent – in his case, father, Willie James Logan, who died two days after being hospitalized with Covid in August 2021.
“It’s been a bumpy ride, I’ll put it this way,” Davion’s mother, LaToya Johnson, said in an interview.
According to her, Davion coped with grief as best he could. His grades are still high. He still longs to meet his friends. However, there are days when they are both exhausted.
“Up and down – up and down,” Ms. Johnson said of their emotions. “He wants to call his dad and can’t.”
Darcy Merritt, a professor of child protection at New York University who was not involved in the study, said the deaths of parents and caregivers would have “long-term and far-reaching consequences” for children, especially those in low-income families.
She added that children of color in the United States are particularly at risk of negative consequences.
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A study in the journal Pediatrics last year found that in the United States, one in every 168 American Indian or Alaska Native children, one in every 310 black children, one in every 412 Hispanic children, and one in every 612 Asian children have lost a guardian compared to one in 753 white children. .
A study by The Lancet found that two out of three orphaned children are between the ages of 10 and 17, and most children who have lost their parents have lost their father.
Juliet Unwin, lead author of the study from Imperial College London, said in a statement that as the researchers get more data, they expect the numbers to rise “10 times higher than currently reported.”
“The pandemic is still raging around the world,” Dr. Unwin said, “which means orphanhood associated with Covid-19 will also continue to rise.”