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Priscilla Idele; David Anthony; Lynne M Mofenson; Jennifer Requejo; Danzhen You; Chewe Luo; Stefan Peterson
The initial impression that paediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection is uncommon and generally mild has been replaced by a more nuanced understanding of infectious manifestations in children and adolescents across low-, middle-, and high-income countries, with recognition of a widening disease spectrum. Critical knowledge gaps, especially in low- and middle-income countries, remain that have significant public policy and programme implications. Insufficient data disaggregated by age, geography and race/ethnicity continue to hinder efforts to fully assess prevalence of infection and disease manifestations in children and adolescents and their role in transmission. Potential biologic differences in susceptibility to infection and transmissibility between children, adolescents and adults need to be assessed. Determination of mother-to-child SARS-CoV-2 transmission during pregnancy, the peripartum period, or through breastfeeding requires appropriate samples obtained with proper timing, lacking in most studies. Finally, predictors of disease progression, morbidity and mortality in children need to be determined and whether these predictors vary by geographic location and in settings where poor nutritional and health conditions and other vulnerabilities are more frequent. Countries, UN agencies, public health communities, donors and academia need to coordinate the efforts and work collectively to close the data and knowledge gaps in all countries (high-, middle- and low-income) for better evidence to guide policy and programme decision-making for children and COVID-19 disease.
Priscilla Idele; David Anthony; Kaku Attah Damoah; Danzhen You
Contrary to the current narrative, the risks of COVID-19 disease in children and young people depend largely on where individuals live and how vulnerable they are to disease and ill health.
It is commonly accepted, at least for now, that children and young people under 20 years of age have largely been spared the direct epidemiological effects on their own health and survival of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for COVID-19 disease. This narrative is based predominantly on early data from the countries first affected by the virus, notably China (Wuhan province) and Italy in early 2020, and also from other high-income countries (HICs) including the United States and some European nations. This narrative has conditioned the subsequent screening and testing for SARS-CoV-2 virus in children and young people under 20, which have been notably lower than for other age cohorts in many, but not all, countries. But demographic profiles differ widely between countries, and assumptions and narratives based on evidence taken from ageing societies, typical of HICs, may not hold for more youthful and growing populations, as illustrated by the contrast between the age-cohort profiles of COVID-19 cases for Italy and Kenya. For this reason, and given that the vast majority of the world’s children and young people live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and territories, we began to investigate the burden of COVID-19 cases among children and young people under 20 globally.
Daniel Kardefelt Winther ; Rogers Twesigye; Rostislav Zlámal; Marium Saeed; David Smahel; Mariya Stoilova; Sonia Livingstone
Children’s digital access – or lack thereof – during the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly determined whether children can continue their education, seek information, stay in touch with friends and family, and enjoy digital entertainment. With over 1.5 billion children across 190 countries confined to their homes, active video games or dance videos may also be their best chance to exercise. The rationale for closing digital divides has never been starker or more urgent.
This data-driven research brief explores three research questions.
1) How much do we know about children’s basic access to the internet across
the globe? 2) Do children regularly use the internet to access health
information? 3) Are children able to verify the truth of online information?
The brief analyzes survey data from the ITU
World Telecommunications/ICT Indicators database, as well as household-survey
data collected from approximately 22,000 children aged 12-16, generated by the
collective work of the EU Kids Online and Global Kids Online research networks.
It concludes with recommendations on how stakeholders can ensure that children’s
health information needs are better supported during the COVID-19 pandemic and
Gabrielle Berman; Karen Carter; Manuel Garcia Herranz; Vedran Sekara
Balancing the need to collect data to
support good decision-making versus the need to protect children from harm
created through the collection of the data has never been more challenging than
in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the pandemic
has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital
contact tracing and surveillance. As the pandemic progresses, we are also
likely to see the emergence of more applications that link datasets as we seek
to better understand the secondary impacts of the pandemic on children and
This working paper explores the
implications for privacy as the linking of datasets increases the likelihood
that children will be identifiable and consequently, the
opportunities for (sensitive) data profiling. It
also frequently involves making data available to a broader set of users or
While it is recognized that reuse of
unidentifiable data could potentially serve future public health responses and
research, the nature of, access to and use of the data now and in future
necessitate accountability, transparency and clear governance processes. It
requires that these be in place from the outset. These are needed to ensure
that data privacy is protected to the greatest degree possible and that the
limitations to the use of these data are clearly articulated.
Karen Carter; Gabrielle Berman; Manuel Garcia Herranz; Vedran Sekara
Nyasha Tirivayi; Dominic Richardson; Maja Gavrilovic; Valeria Groppo; Lusajo Kajula; Elsa Valli; Francesca Viola
This rapid review seeks to inform the initial and long-term public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, by assessing evidence on past economic policy and social protection responses to health and economic crises and their effects on children and families. The review focuses on virus outbreaks/emergencies, economic crises and natural disasters, which, like the COVID-19 pandemic, were 'rapid' in onset, had wide-ranging geographical reach, and resulted in disruption of social services and economic sectors, without affecting governance systems. Evidence is also drawn from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, due to its impacts on adult mortality rates and surviving children.
The available evidence on the effects of economic policy and social protection responses is uneven across outcomes, regions, and type of policy response as a large body of literature focused on social assistance programmes. Future research on the COVID-19 pandemic can prioritize the voices of children and the marginalized, assess the effects of expansionary and austerity measures, examine the role of design and implementation, social care services, pre-existing macro-level health, demographic and health conditions and the diverse regional health and economic impacts of the pandemic. The paper also provides key lessons for public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mathieu Brossard; Manuel Cardoso; Akito Kamei; Sakshi Mishra; Suguru Mizunoya; Nicolas Reuge
This research brief is one of a series that explores the impact of COVID-19 on education. It focuses on the potential parental role in learning and its association with foundational reading and numeracy skills. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In low-income countries, the learning crisis is even more acute, with the ‘learning poverty’ rate reaching 90 per cent. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 191 countries have implemented countrywide school closures, affecting 1.6 billion learners worldwide. In India alone, 320 million students from pre-primary to tertiary level are affected by school closures. In sub-Saharan Africa, 240 million are affected. With children currently not able to study in classrooms, the importance of learning at home is amplified and the task of supporting children’s learning has fallen on parents at a much larger rate. This is a significant burden, particularly for those who are also teleworking and those with limited schooling themselves.
Thomas Dreesen; Spogmai Akseer; Mathieu Brossard; Pragya Dewan; Juan-Pablo Giraldo; Akito Kamei; Suguru Mizunoya; Javier Santiago Ortiz Correa
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on societies, globally. To help contain the spread of the disease, schools around the world have closed, affecting 1.6 billion learners – approximately 91 per cent of the world’s enrolled students. Governments and education stakeholders have responded swiftly to continue children’s learning, using various delivery channels including digital tools, TV/radio-based teaching and take-home packages for parent or carer-guided education.
However, the massive scale of school closures has laid bare the uneven distribution of the technology needed to facilitate remote learning. It has also highlighted the lack of preparedness and low resilience of systems to support teachers, facilitators and parents/caregivers in the successful and safe use of technology for learning.
Giovanni Andrea Cornia; Richard Jolly; Frances Stewart
This paper identifies key ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation involving children during the mitigation stage of the pandemic (emergency phase), on subject matter relating to COVID-19 once the pandemic has been contained, and once containment policy measures, including lockdowns, have been lifted (post-emergency phase).
While the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a global crisis, with evidence generation activities raising critical ethical issues that have been captured in the literature and relevant guidelines, there are specificities relating to this emergency that must be considered when unpacking potential ethical issues.
Dita Nugroho; Hsiao-Chen Lin; Ivelina Borisova; Ana Nieto; Maniza Ntekim
The first years of a child’s life are critical to building the foundations of learning that help them succeed in school and beyond. Investment in early childhood education results in positive returns, not only for individual children, but also for building more efficient and effective education systems. Recent analysis estimated that every US dollar spent on pre-primary education results in US$9 of benefits to society.
This brief summarizes the key findings and observations from a report on the remote learning options – be it online, television, radio, paper- or mobile-based – that countries around the world have made available for pre-primary students and their families while schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was informed by the joint UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank survey of national education responses to COVID-19 and emerging good practices from 10 country case studies.
UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.
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