NEW YORK, 19 November 2020 – UNICEF warned in a new report today of significant and growing consequences for children as the COVID-19 pandemic lurches toward a second year.
Released ahead of World Children’s Day, Averting a Lost COVID Generation is the first UNICEF report to comprehensively outline the dire and growing consequences for children as the pandemic drags on. It shows that while symptoms among infected children remain mild, infections are rising and the longer-term impact on the education, nutrition and well-being of an entire generation of children and young people can be life-altering.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a persistent myth that children are barely affected by the disease. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “While children can get sick and can spread the disease, this is just the tip of the pandemic iceberg. Disruptions to key services and soaring poverty rates pose the biggest threat to children. The longer the crisis persists, the deeper its impact on children’s education, health, nutrition and well-being.”
The report finds that, as of 3 November, in 87 countries with age-disaggregated data, children and adolescents under 20 years of age accounted for 1 in 9 of COVID-19 infections, or 11 per cent of the 25.7 million infections reported by these countries.
While children can transmit the virus to each other and to older age groups, there is strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them, the report notes. Schools are not a main driver of community transmission, and children are more likely to get the virus outside of school settings.
COVID-related disruptions to critical health and social services for children pose the most serious threat to children, the report says. Using new data from UNICEF surveys across 140 countries, it notes that:
More alarming data from the report include:
To respond to this crisis, UNICEF is calling on governments and partners to:
The report will go live at 00.01 GMT 19 November here: https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/six-point-plan-protect-children
For the UNICEF survey on disruptions to child services due to COVID-19 across 148 countries from 17 August to 17 September, click here.
The data used for the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection among children and adolescents under age 20 is the re-analyzed country-level data from Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) (https://osf.io/mpwjq/).
For more information, please contact:
Sabrina Sidhu, UNICEF New York, +1 917 4761537, firstname.lastname@example.org