Infectious Disease

More than 1 million children have died during a pandemic

August 03, 2021

Read for 2 minutes

ADD SUBJECT TO EMAIL ALERTS

Receive an email when new articles are published on

Please enter your email address to receive an email when new articles are published on . “data-action = subscribe> Subscribe

We could not process your request. Please try again later. If this problem persists, please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

Back to Healio

A significant number of children died from a primary caregiver in the first 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a model study published in The Lancet.

“With most COVID-19 deaths occurring in adults rather than children, attention has understandably been turned to adults.” Susan D. Hillis, PhD, of the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, and colleagues wrote. “However, a tragic consequence of the high number of adult deaths is that many children could lose their parents and carers to COVID-19, as happened during the HIV / AIDS, Ebola and influenza epidemics of 1918. Our aim is to shed a bright light on this urgent and overlooked consequence that is harmful to children. “

The researchers tried to gauge the extent of this problem during the COVID-19 pandemic and to elucidate the need for resource allocation. Using mortality and fertility data, they modeled minimum estimates and death rates associated with COVID-19 in primary or secondary caregivers for children under 18 in 21 countries. They defined primary caregivers as parents and grandparents with custody and secondary caregivers as co-living grandparents or older relatives between the ages of 60 and 84. They used an estimated secondary attack rate and age-specific infection-death ratios for SARS-CoV-2 in order to take into account a possible accumulation of deaths and thus avoid overcounting. In addition, the researchers used these estimates to model global projections for the number of children who died from primary and secondary caregivers associated with COVID-19.

Between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021, Hillis and colleagues estimated that 1,134,000 children of primary caregivers died worldwide, including at least one parent or custodial grandparent, and 1,562,000 children died of at least one primary or secondary carer . They found the primary caregiver mortality rate of at least one in 1,000 children in nine countries including Peru (10.2 per 1,000 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). According to the researchers, the number of orphaned children was higher than the number of deaths among those aged 15 to 50. Children were two to five times more likely to have dead fathers than dead mothers.

“Now is the time to focus on a group that will continue to grow as the pandemic progresses: the more than 1 million children who have lost a parent and half a million more.”

Children who have lost a grandparent caregiver living in their own home, ”wrote Hillis and colleagues. “These nameless children are the tragic, overlooked consequence of the millions of pandemic deaths.”

In a corresponding press release Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stressed the importance of developing interventions for this population group.

“Studies like this one play a critical role in shedding light on the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on families and the future mental health and wellbeing of children around the world,” said Volkow. “Although the trauma experienced by a child after losing a parent or caregiver can be devastating, there are evidence-based interventions that can prevent other adverse effects such as drug use, and we need to ensure that children have access to these interventions. “

ADD SUBJECT TO EMAIL ALERTS

Receive an email when new articles are published on

Please enter your email address to receive an email when new articles are published on . “data-action = subscribe> Subscribe

We could not process your request. Please try again later. If this problem persists, please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

Back to Healio

COVID-19 Resource Center

Related Articles