The study does not include deaths related to the omicron variant of COVID-19, which would likely increase the number of children who have lost a parent to the virus.
Of the parents who died of COVID-19, about 77 percent of them were fathers, or male guardians, compared to about 23 percent of mothers, or female caregivers, lost, the study reports.
The estimates were reached by gathering data available on COVID-19 mortality from 21 countries — including the United States, Brazil, England, Russia, Mexico, France, Italy, Kenya, and more — which represent 76 percent of coronavirus deaths, in order for the researchers to “model global minimum estimates of children affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and caregiver death.”
Grandparents were included as caregivers in the study as the researchers acknowledged the pivotal role that grandparents play in children’s lives, especially in lower-income settings. Children who live in households that home extended family members, including grandparents, is about 40 percent worldwide and almost 50 percent in the Asia-Pacific, the study notes.
The researchers’ estimates for children who lost a primary caregiver or parent specifically between March 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021 (predating omicron) was 3,550,000, excluding grandparents and secondary caregivers.
When secondary caregivers and grandparents were included, the total increased by 1,650,300, totaling in entirety to 5,200,300 orphaned children as a minimum estimate between those months.
About 150,00 children are predicted to have lost a parent to COVID-19 since the pandemic’s start until Oct. 2021 in the United States, while 192,500 children in Mexico are predicted to have lost a parent in that timeframe, and 1,917,100 children lost a parent in that window of time in India.