University of Oxford researchers work together to protect COVID-19 orphans

  Lucie Cluver and Seth Flaxman are standing in front of a brick building.

Associate Professor Seth Flaxman, Computer Science and Professor Lucie Cluver, Department of Social Policy and Intervention worked together alongside global organisation including the World Bank, WHO and NGOs like Save the Children to change the lives of children who lost a parent or guardian due to COVID-19. 

A new film, which is part of the Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN) Research Stories series, shows how Seth and Lucie combined their experience of AI and machine learning and child and family social care to work together during the COVID-19 Pandemic to improve global understanding of the number of children 'left behind' by losing a parent or guardian during the pandemic.  

The film called Researcher Stories: Covid-related Orphanhood highlights the work of the Policy partnership called The Global Reference Group on Children Affected by COVID-19 and Crisis.

Professor Lucie Cluver, Department of Social Policy and Intervention said: ‘Policy partnership is fundamental to everything we do.’ 

Having worked on AIDS orphanhood for 15 years, Lucie knew that research would be needed into the children orphaned by COVID 19. Combining epidemiology and demographics methods, they worked out that over 10.5M children have lost a parent or primary career due to COVID 19. That figure could then be used by the World Bank, WHO and NGOs like Save the Children to inform policy changes. 

Associate Professor Seth Flaxman, Computer Science added: 'It's amazing to see how the estimates that come out of the studies we do can actually change policy and make a difference in the lives of children globally.' 

Laura B Rawlings, Lead Economist at the Human Capital Project, World Bank said of the project:

The work that we have done together has brought the importance of this crisis to the forefront of the policy dialogue. The support in terms of research and data, so that countries can respond accordingly is in valuable.

Oxford’s researchers and academics have a wealth of experience in engaging with policymakers and contributing to policy impact. This is another example of researchers from across faculties and subject areas are working to share knowledge and expertise with the policymaking community so that, together, we can contribute to better policies that protect what is valuable and change the world for the better.  

OPEN, who fund the Researcher Stories, is a growing network of researchers, doctoral students and professional services staff at the University of Oxford who share a vision of public policy powered by the world’s best available research evidence and expertise. 

Watch the film and find out more about the Researcher Stories series here: