A new study by The Lancet, Global minimum estimates of children affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and deaths of caregivers: a modelling study, determined that over 1.1 million children were “orphaned” by the pandemic last year.
These children lost their primary caregiver parent(s) or grandparent(s) due to Covid-19. The total includes more than 113,708 children in the United States, with 104,884 losing a maternal caregiver (29,222) or paternal caregiver (75,645) and 8,824 losing one or both of their caregivers grandparents.
The study examined a global period from March 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, and estimated 1,134,000 children experienced the death of primary caregivers, including at least one parent or custodial grandparent. Countries in the study with primary caregiver death rates of at least one per 1000 children included Peru (10.2 per 1000 children), South Africa (5.1), Mexico (3.5), Brazil (2.4), Colombia (2.3), Iran (1.7), the USA (1.5), Argentina (1.1), and Russia (1.0). The number of children orphaned exceeded the number of deaths among those aged 15–50 years. Between two and five times more children had deceased fathers than deceased mothers.
Beyond the loss of the caregiver is the impact on children even when there is loss of non-caregiver relatives. The researchers note: “Even with surviving parents, COVID-19-associated
death in a grandparent who lives with their grandchildren represents an important loss. Childcare by grandparents is associated with increased parental labour-force participation, school attendance, educational attainment, and communication skills. Orphaned children cared for by custodial grandparents after losing their parents might face secondary trauma after losing
that caregiver from COVID-19.”