Children: The Hidden Pandemic - September 2022, Orphanhood and Caregiver Loss Based on Excess COVID-19 Death Estimates

This report updates the authors' previous findings to provide the most current estimates of COVID19 associated orphanhood and caregiver loss during the first 26 months of the pandemic (March 1, 2020 – May 1, 2022). In this report, the authors use newly available excess mortality data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) for every nation, to update global minimum estimates of COVID-19-associated orphanhood and caregiver death among children.

Although the paper also reports updated global orphanhood estimates using, in addition to WHO data, excess mortality data available from by The Economist and The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), they limit their findings in this report to those based on WHO estimates, as they are lower and thus more conservative. Using previous methodology for combining age-specific death and fertility rates, they computed excess-mortality derived estimates for children affected by pandemic-linked orphanhood and caregiver death in every country. Excess deaths are defined as the number of deaths from all causes during the pandemic period, that are above and beyond what we would have expected to see under normal conditions for the same time frame.

A description of methods is found in Appendix II. Using data from a study set comprised of 21 countries accounting for 76% of all COVID-19 deaths in 2020, they derived a global extrapolation model for the total number of children experiencing COVID-19- associated death of a parent or grandparent caregiver. In this report, the authors multiply their orphanhood and caregiver loss to death ratio by the maximum between excess deaths and COVID-19 deaths, which they describe as ‘composite deaths,’ for every country with data.

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