Shirley L Smith reports for the Guardian:
While the US has been engulfed in a heated battle to prevent people from contracting and dying from Covid-19, another pandemic has been raging behind closed doors among children who have lost one or both parents, or their caregivers, to Covid.
A new study, published on Thursday in the journal Pediatrics, estimated that from April 2020 through 30 June this year, more than 140,000 children under the age of 18 lost their mother, father, or grandparent who provided their housing, basic needs and daily care to the disease.
The study reveals that Covid is not only disproportionately killing adults from communities of color, but the children in these communities are bearing the brunt of the aftershock of this “hidden pandemic”, said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Nida), which co-funded the study.
Although people of racial and ethnic minority groups make up 39% of the US population, the study shows about 65% of children who lost a primary caregiver are minority Hispanic, Black, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native. Thirty-five per cent are white.
“The death of a parental figure is an enormous loss that can reshape a child’s life,” Volkow said. But researchers say the needs of these children have been largely overlooked.
“Compared to white children, American Indian/Alaska Native children were 4.5 times more likely to lose a parent or grandparent caregiver, Black children were 2.4 times more likely, and Hispanic children were 1.8 times more likely,” Nida said.
The study was a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Imperial College London, Harvard University, Oxford University and the University of Cape Town. Researchers used mortality, fertility, and census data to estimate Covid-associated orphanhood, which they define as the death of one or both parents, or the death of a custodial or co-residing grandparent who was primarily responsible for caring for a child or lived in the same household as the parent and assisted in caring for the child.