COVID-19 Data: Latest in Global Humanitarian Aid

Globally, COVID-19 cases are increasing for the fifth consecutive week and are increasing by about 10 percent on a weekly basis throughout March.
COVID-19 Data: Latest in Global Humanitarian Aid
COVID-19 Data: Latest in Global Humanitarian Aid

Globally, COVID-19 cases are increasing for the fifth consecutive week and are increasing by about 10 percent on a weekly basis throughout March.

The 5 most important things to know:

More than 5.1 million new cases and 120,000 deaths were registered in the Global Humanitarian Overview countries in March – 70% increase in cases and 32% increase in deaths compared to February. The association is difficult, but can be explained by the increase in cases and deaths, the proliferation of new variants, the lack of widespread access to vaccines, and the loosening and declining compliance with public health and social measures.

Ten countries with an inter-agency Humanitarian Aid Plan (HRP) are experiencing a consistent increase in cases and deaths. Yemen experienced an 85% increase in reported cases and 39% increase in deaths compared to the previous month. Seven of the countries reported the highest numbers of cases and five the highest numbers of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Five countries have verified at least one Variant of Concern (VOC), and all ten countries are bordering countries with verified VOCs.

Vaccines are delivered to HRP countries in relatively small quantities. In March, COVAX sent more than 9.2 million doses to 11 countries, bringing the total number of COVAX deliveries in HRP countries to 11 million. This is about 15 percent of the 73 million doses that COVAX aims to deliver to HRP countries in the first round, and it aims to finalize by the end of May. It is estimated that 3.6 million doses were donated by other countries to HRP countries or supplied directly by national authorities in March.

Lower administration of vaccines continues to be a problem in HRP countries. According to available data, only 3.5 million of the 21 million doses given in HRP countries were administered. As of March 31, for every 165 people worldwide receiving a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, only one resident in a country with a Humanitarian Response Plan.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, International Financial Institutions have provided $ 68.7 billion to 46 countries in the GHO. Countries with humanitarian plans have received the least funding and half receive less than $ 23 per person.

Three issues to watch in April:

Increasing incidents and deaths in humanitarian settings and their impact on health capacity and humanitarian operations. Although not included in the top ten, the steady increase of cases in Colombia over the past month is a cause for concern, especially given the presence of the P.1 variant. It is also important to continue monitoring the situation in Cameroon. Data on cases and deaths are reported less frequently, making it difficult to assess the trajectory of the pandemic, but data from March seem to point to a significant increase compared to previous months.

Including government measures to contain the epidemic in humanitarian emergencies, restrictions on movement, and potential impacts on access to services, employment and humanitarian operations.

COVAX Funding – On April 15, the United States will host the launch event for the Gavi COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) 2021 investment opportunity to stimulate resources and commitment to COVAX. The amount of funding mobilized will affect the scale and speed of COVAX deliveries to HRP countries in the coming months.

COVID-19 Data: Latest in Global Humanitarian Aid
COVID-19 Data: Latest in Global Humanitarian Aid

1. Epidemiological Update

Globally, COVID-19 cases are increasing by about 10 percent weekly during the month of March for five consecutive weeks. Of the nearly 13 million new cases reported in March, more than 5.1 million were in countries covered by the Global Humanitarian Overview. All regions except Africa reported an increase in deaths in the last week of March 1, bringing the total death toll in March to around 120,000 in GHO countries.

The cumulative, official death toll in GHO countries is approaching one million, which will likely be exceeded in April.

Ten countries with the Inter-agency Humanitarian Plan for 2021 experienced an upward trend in the past month, consistent with nearly 500,000 new cases and more than 9,000 deaths (Figure 1). Seven of these countries report the highest number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic. While cases reported in Yemen have increased by 85% since the beginning of the month, it takes 36 days for cases to double in the country.

There are warnings of capacity hospitals, lack of supplies and equipment, and health systems at risk of collapse. It took 40 days for cases to double in Somalia, and deaths doubled in March. Libya, Somalia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Yemen reported the highest death tolls since the pandemic began.

Figure 1. Ten HRP countries showing an upward trend in cases and deaths (March 1-31)

It is important to remember that in most of these contexts testing capacity remains limited and reporting is insufficient due to a variety of factors. Therefore, the data can only gather a limited amount of information about the trajectory of the pandemic in these countries. Some indicators, such as the high test rate shown in Figure 1 above, highlight the possibility that widespread community transfer has occurred and could be seriously underestimated.

There are likely to be several factors driving the increase and varying in each country. The spread of VOCs (VOCs), all of which improve the transferability, will likely be a contributing factor. In ten HRP countries with an increasing trend, five countries have confirmed at least one VOC (Cameroon, occupied Palestinian territory, Libya, Mozambique and Venezuela).

All ten countries are border countries that validate VOCs, making it possible for one or more variants to exist in ten HRP countries. However, due to the lack of genomic surveillance, they may go undetected. Half of the GHO countries have confirmed at least one or more Problem Variants (Figure 2). The Philippines has confirmed that it has confirmed two of the other three and nine GHO countries.

Figure. 2 Confirmed Issue Variants (as of March 23) in GHO and HRP countries

Despite the marked increase in cases and deaths, the three measures tracked by the Oxford Firmness Index – housing conditions, closures of workplaces, and internal movement restrictions – remained relatively stable in these ten HRP countries (Figure 3).

Those with stricter policies protected them (eg Venezuela, Libya). Those who did not have many restrictive measures either abolished them (Ethiopia) or did not change any measures (Cameroon). Meanwhile, Ukraine, Mozambique and Somalia increased the tightness of one of the three measures without changing the other two.

The monitoring of these three measures is particularly important because of their high socioeconomic costs, including their potential to worsen the economic situation, disrupt health services and affect humanitarian operations.

Figure 3. Tightness of Government Actions in Ten HRP countries with increasing cases (as of March 31)

2. COVID-19 Vaccination Update

Delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to GHO countries has accelerated, albeit at a much slower rate than high-income countries.

COVAX delivered 9.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in 11 countries with humanitarian emergencies in March, including some of the most vulnerable contexts such as Yemen (360,000 doses), South Sudan (336,000) and Somalia (300,000). Other countries that received doses from the COVAX facility in March include Iraq, the occupied Palestine region, Afghanistan, and Mozambique. COVAX has currently delivered 11 million doses to 11 countries through its Inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan.

This represents almost 15 percent of the 73 million doses COVAX has allocated to HRP countries in its first round allocation, which is estimated to be delivered by the end of May. Except for COVAX, in March, China donated 400,000 doses of Sinopharm to Niger and 500,000 doses to Venezuela, while India donated 50,000 doses to the Democratic Republic of Congo and 100,000 doses to Mozambique. Colombia supplied 2.4 million doses of Sinovac, and Zimbabwe supplied 144,000 doses from Sinopharm.

Figure 4. Vaccines delivered to% of total population (as of 31 March. Doses include COVAX, other and supplies)

Of the more than 8 million doses supplied or donated, India has donated the largest number of doses to HRP countries. China donated doses to the largest number of HRP countries. Seven HRP countries (Burkina Faso, CAR, Cameroon, Haiti, Libya and Chad) did not receive any COVID-19 vaccine deliveries.

Follow the latest data on the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine here.

Figure 5.Total Vaccines delivered to HRP countries by source (as of March 31)

The future looks challenging as COVAX shipped more than 32 million COVID-19 vaccines to 70 participants at the end of March. GAVI is concerned about the delay in delivery of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India. COVAX and 5 Government of India continue to negotiate to ensure that some supplies are completed in March and April. Despite these challenges, COVAX increased its target for AMC countries to 1.8 million doses in 2021, targeting about 27% of the population.

It is difficult to disseminate and administer vaccines in HRP countries. At the end of March, against 165 people worldwide who received a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine, only one person lived in a country with an inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan. A total of 21 million doses of vaccine were delivered to 19 HRP countries. However, only 3.5 million doses have been administered so far, and there are still no data available for administrations in eight countries (Figure 6).

On March 22, 2021, the GAVI Executive Board approved the establishment of the humanitarian buffer. Buffer is a mechanism established at the COVAX facility to act as a “last resort” to gain access to COVID-19 vaccines for high-risk populations in humanitarian settings. Up to 5% of the COVAX AMC doses will be reserved for the buffer, which can reach 100 million doses by the end of the year.

Figure 6. Total Delivery and Administration of COVID-19 Vaccines in HRP countries (as of March 31)

3. Secondary Effects

3.1. Economic Effects

The economic transition has been devastating for a year since WHO identified the outbreak. COVID-19 is estimated to drive 119-124 million people into poverty in 2020, a significant increase over previous estimates. Almost 9 percent of global working hours were lost in 2020; that’s the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs, four times more than job losses in the 2009 financial crisis. The Human Development Index recorded its first decline since 1990, due to the epidemic that erased decades of progress in female labor force participation.

The IMF forecast for 2021 reveals divergent recovery paths between rich and poor countries that will likely create wider gaps in living standards across countries compared to pre-pandemic expectations. The average annual loss in per capita GDP over 2020-2024, compared to pre-pandemic forecasts, is projected to be 5.7 per cent in low-income countries, while in advanced economies the losses are expected to be smaller at 2.3 percent. Such losses are continuing to reverse gains in poverty 7 reduction and will continue to entrench and compound the vulnerability of people living in humanitarian crises.

Adequate and timely funding from International Financial Institutions is critical to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and support recovery in the poorest countries. Since March 2020, International Financial Institutions have provided approximately US $ 68.8 billion in funding for 46 countries in the GHO. Some countries such as Djibouti, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ukraine, and Jordan earned over $ 100 per capita income, while other countries and particularly those with an inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan received the least amount of funding.

More than half of the 27 HRP countries received less than $ 23 per person for support. Libya received only US $ 0.07 per capita, while Sudan and Zimbabwe received 2.51 US dollars and 2.56 US dollars, respectively.

Figure 7.IFI funding per capita compared to GDP per capita in GHO countries (as of 31 March)


The funding environment for IFI support may change in the coming months. On April 5, the IMF Executive Board decided to extend Debt Service Assistance to 28 Eligible Low-Income Countries until October 15, 2021. Negotiations are underway for the issuance of the new $ 650 billion IMF special drawing rights (SDRs).

The G20 and IMF’s international monetary and finance committee, which advises the board of directors, are expected to announce approval of this proposal at their spring meetings with final approval in August and payment shortly thereafter. An SDR allocation of $ 650 billion will provide SDR worth approximately $ 21 billion as liquidity support to low-income countries, and approximately $ 212 billion to other emerging markets and developing countries (excluding China).

Existing multilateral efforts to assist countries in need will be complemented. Negotiations are underway for rich countries to grant or later lend SDR allowances to LICs, resulting in higher liquidity support.

4. Financing Update

At the end of March, the Global Humanitarian Review received a coverage of approximately US $ 2.13 billion, or 5.9%, from the total requirement of US $ 36 billion. In 2021, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated US $ 240 million in 38 countries. More than 67% of the funding will contribute to gender equality. UNOCHA Country-Based Pooled Funds allocated US $ 252 million in 17 countries, with more than 84% of the fund contributing to gender equality.

5. Covid-19 Data Update

The COVID-19 Data Explorer now tracks the status of school closures using data from UNESCO. An estimated 7.2%, or 19 million, are out of school in the five-six countries monitored. There are five countries shut down nationwide: Iraq, Venezuela, Jordan, Lebanon and Panama.

For the latest data on how COVID-19 is impacting countries experiencing humanitarian crises, visit the OCHA-HDX COVID-19 Data Explorer.