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"A crucial milestone but today’s children will forever be the Covid generation"

In response to the WHO declaring an end to Covid-19 as a global health emergency, Lisa Wise, Director of Global Policy and Research at Save the Children said:

“This announcement is a crucial milestone but today’s children will forever be the Covid generation. Over the past three years, their lives were turned upside down. As well as denying them access to education, health and protection, the pandemic widened global inequality and drove an estimated 100 million children into poverty worldwide.

“In the UK, the youngest in society were not considered adequately or even at all in many key decisions made by the UK government during their Covid-19 response. It is now vitally important that their voices are heard as we learn lessons and recover.

“And while COVID-19 is no longer officially considered a 'public health emergency of international concern’, the virus is here to stay. Many vulnerable communities around the world remain unvaccinated and hundreds of millions of children are still facing the effects of the pandemic and will likely continue to do so for years to come. 

“COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns, global economic shutdown and disruption brought on an unprecedented crisis for children that hit the most marginalised hardest. Over 1.5 billion children had their education disrupted, and children suffered an increase in violence when schools were closed. An estimated 10.5 million children lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19, and the pandemic unleashed a global mental health crisis, with 83% of children reporting an increase in negative feelings as a result. The risk of hunger increased worldwide.

“Without urgent global action, years of progress for children will be permanently reversed. It is vital that all governments prioritise children’s wellbeing. And there must be investment in robust pandemic preparedness and universal access to healthcare.

“The announcement by the WHO serves as a stark reminder that we live in a highly unequal world, one that is failing to protect children and their rights. Global leaders must work together to prioritise and finance the work that must be done.”


  • Save the Children, Just for Kids Law and Children’s Rights Alliance for England are Core Participants for module two of the Covid-19 Inquiry, which will examine the political and administrative decision-making of the UK and devolved governments.
  • Two years into the pandemic, an estimated 100 million additional children had been driven into poverty – a 10% increase compared to pre-COVID-19, according to data from 2021 analysed by UNICEF and Save the Children. This spike means that as of 2021, a projected 1.1 billion children were living in multi-dimensional poverty, which includes severe deprivation of their education, health, housing, nutrition, or water and sanitation.  
  • In a 2020 Save the Children survey of 25,000 people across 37 countries, children reported higher rates of violence when schools were closed compared to when attending class in person.   
  • About 10.5 million children worldwide experienced COVID-19–associated loss of parents and caregivers through May 1, 2022, according to estimates based on World Health Organization (WHO) data.  
  • A survey of over 13,000 children in 46 countries carried out by Save the Children in September 2020 found that 83% of children reported an increase in negative feelings due to the pandemic. Reports of negative feelings were far higher for the vast majority of children (96%) when schools had been closed for 17 to 19 weeks.

With any enquiries please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk / 07831 650409.