At least 120,000 children in the US lost a primary caregiver – a parent or grandparent responsible for providing housing, basic needs and care – due to COVID-19-associated death, showed a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics on Thursday.
In addition to the 120,630 children who were estimated to have lost a primary caregiver, 22,007 lost a secondary caregiver, or a grandparent providing housing but not most basic needs between April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, according to the study.
“Children facing orphanhood as a result of COVID is a hidden, global pandemic that has sadly not spared the United States,” said Susan Hillis, researcher of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and lead author of the study.
“All of us – especially our children – will feel the serious immediate and long-term impact of this problem for generations to come. Addressing the loss that these children have experienced – and continue to experience – must be one of our top priorities, and it must be woven into all aspects of our emergency response, both now and in the post-pandemic future,” Hillis said.
The study was a collaboration between the CDC, Imperial College London, Harvard University, Oxford University, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
“The magnitude of young people affected is a sobering reminder of the devastating impact of the past 18 months,” said Alexandra Blenkinsop, co-lead researcher of the Imperial
College London. “These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed.”