According to a new study, an estimated 1.5 million children worldwide lost a mother, father, or other caregiving relative during the first 14 months of the pandemic. More than a million primary caregivers were displaced.
The researchers wrote in the study, which was published on Tuesday in the medical journal The Lancet, that “these unnamed children are the tragic overlooked consequence of the millions of pandemic dead.”
According to the researchers, as the virus spreads throughout the world, an increasing number of children will suffer similar losses, putting them at risk for a variety of additional traumas such as mental health problems, abuse, chronic diseases, and extreme poverty.
The estimates were developed using death statistics and other data from 21 countries that were responsible for more than 76 percent of global Covid deaths between April 30, 2016 and April 30, 2021, according to the estimates. International experts from various organisations, including the World Health Organization and Imperial College London, worked together as part of an international research team led by a member of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many children have experienced a devastating loss as a result of their grandparents’ deaths. Researchers found that 40 percent of grandparents living with grandchildren serve as their primary caregivers, and that 40 percent of grandparents living with grandchildren provide regular care for grandchildren in the United Kingdom, according to their findings.
In a separate online report linked to the study, the researchers cautioned that because the pandemic was far from over and vaccinations had not yet reached a large portion of the global population, the number of deaths among caregivers was likely to continue to rise, with “severe consequences lasting at least until the age of 18 years for children who were affected.”
“The impact of these parental and caregiver deaths varies across families, communities, and countries,” the researchers wrote in their findings. “However, there is one thing that they all have in common: when a child loses a parent or grandparent caregiver, his or her life often falls apart.”