The first year of the COVID-19 response focused on preventing, detecting, and responding to infections, and on mitigating morbidity and mortality—more than 145 million cases had caused more than 3 million COVID-19 deaths by April 30, 2021. Hundreds of thousands more died from pandemic-associated sequelae. Although safe and effective vaccines raise hope for ending the pandemic, current challenges to ensuring global access are formidable.
Because most COVID-19 deaths occur among adults, not children, attention has been focused, understandably, on adults. However, a tragic consequence of high numbers of adult deaths is that high numbers of children might lose their parents and caregivers to COVID-19, as occurred during the HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and 1918 influenza epidemics. The goal of this report is to shine a bright light on this urgent and overlooked consequence that is harmful for children.