(NEW YORK) — Dr. Susan Hillis, who has spent years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is the lead author of several reports on Covid-related orphanhood and caregiver death, spoke recently about the devastating toll of the pandemic with ABC News’ David Muir, the anchor of “World News Tonight.”
“In the United States, for every four COVID deaths, we have one child left behind, orphaned of their parent or grandparent, caregiver who provided for their needs and nurture,” said Hillis who has a PhD in epidemiology.
Her recent study published in The Lancet in February 2022 includes a real-time Covid orphanhood calculator showing the global impact of the pandemic.
The research was led by the CDC, in collaboration with Harvard, Oxford, Imperial College, USAID, the World Bank, and World Health Organization.
According to the latest data, the number of children globally affected by orphanhood and caregiver death has now surpassed 10 million children — and more than 250,000 children have now lost a parent or caregiver in the U.S.
“It is an extraordinary number of children. That is why, we cannot in good conscience continue to ignore them,” Hillis told Muir.
The February report also compared the number of children whose parents or caregivers died in the first 14 months of the pandemic, 2.7 million children, to those affected in the next six months — and found the number nearly doubled, reaching 5.2 million by October 2021.
The study also shows that children whose parents or caregivers have died are mostly adolescents who have lost their fathers.
The research recommends that care for children must be integrated into every nation’s Covid response plan.
“There is not nearly enough being done, and that’s why it’s so important that all of us begin to ask these questions,” Hillis said, talking about the urgent need to find support for the children impacted by orphanhood.
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