COVID-19 orphans

Oct. 25, 2021
November 2021 Fast Stats

One U.S. child loses a parent or caregiver for every four COVID-19 deaths, a new modeling study published in Pediatrics reveals as reported by the National Institutes of Health. The findings illustrate orphanhood as a hidden and ongoing secondary tragedy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasizes that identifying and caring for these children throughout their development is a necessary and urgent part of the pandemic response – for as long as the pandemic continues, as well as in the post-pandemic era. 


or one in 500 children in the United States is estimated to have experienced the death of at least one parent, custodial, or co-residing grandparent caregiver due to COVID-19.


is the number of children in the U.S. who lost their primary caregiver due to COVID-19.

1.5 million

Children around the world lost a primary or secondary caregiver during the first 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.


of U.S. children had been living in single-parent homes, pre-pandemic; 10% had a grandparent as their primary caregiver, pre-pandemic.


of U.S. children orphaned by COVID-19-related deaths were children of racial and ethnic minorities.


Ethnic and minority children were 4.5 times more likely to lose a parent to COVID-19 than a white child.


One of 168 American Indian/ Alaska Native children experienced the death of a caregiver due to COVID-19, while one of every 753 white children in the U.S. has been orphaned by COVID-19-associated deaths.

The study was a collaboration between the CDC, Imperial College London, Harvard University, Oxford University, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Illustration 148080617 © Denys Holovatiuk |
Photo 29660824 © Photographerlondon |
Illustration 55481452 © Designua |