UNICEF India COVID-19 Pandemic Humanitarian Update January to December 2021


Situation in Numbers

286 million Children in need of access to learning

664 million people in need of humanitarian assistance

44.6 million Children and women accessing health care

71.25 percent Children have access to remote learning

100,000 active COVID-19 cases (on 31st December 2021


  • 664 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including 286 million children requiring access to education and continuity of learning

  • 41.4 million children and women accessed primary health care services in UNICEF supported facilities

  • 3 million healthcare facility staff and community health workers trained in infection, prevention and control

  • 144 million people reached with handwashing behaviour change programmes

  • 1,138,551 women, girls and boys accessed gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions

  • 21.53 million children from most vulnerable groups accessed formal or non-formal education, including early learning.

  • 44,086 children without parental care received cash transfers as part of UNICEF supported programmes

  • 12 states and sectors have a system of community engagement and feedback mechanisms to stimulate demand for child-centred disaster risk reduction actions

  • The cumulative social impact of past two years of COVID crisis on children and women is yet to be understood fully and will take many years to recover.

  • In 2022, UNICEF India urgently requires US$76.6 m to address the cumulative, indirect impacts of the pandemic on children, along with the response to the ongoing health emergency.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

  • The COVID-19 second wave crisis, compounded by multiple natural hazards, had a critical impact on the health and humanitarian situation in India across states underpinning urgent needs for stretching response capacities of the government and humanitarian organizations. The pandemic particularly impacted children, with health, nutrition, education and protection services disrupted. UNICEF prioritized strengthening systemic preparedness and response capabilities of the key government departments, front-line workers and partner networks to ensure that the social sector continued to deliver inclusive, gender- and child-sensitive humanitarian action. In 2021, UNICEF India and its partners across the country assisted the government and its key departments to deliver results for a targeted 841 million vulnerable people including 392 million children.

  • UNICEF played a vital role in the procurement and installation of essential equipment for containing the pandemic and treating those affected. A large number of essential supplies including 64 mass thermal scanners installed in 24 airports and 11 seaports; 11.5 million Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) which benefited 461,000 heath care workers; supplied and installed 385 RT-PCR machines and 100 RNA extraction machines in government laboratories which led to an estimated 15.5 million tests by December 2021.

  • UNICEF provided the Government of India 512 high-flow nasal cannulas and 550 pulse oximeters and to boost oxygen availability, procured and installed 4,650 oxygen concentrators in 15 states and 40 oxygen generation plants in eight states.

  • UNICEF, as the technical and logistical support to the Government of India has been instrumental in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in a phased manner contributing to a coverage of 89 per cent of the eligible population with the 1st dose and 64 per cent for 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine in adults as of 31st December 20213.

  • Work on safeguarding budgets for children led to institutionalization of child budgets in nine programming states. Budgetary allocations increased by US$162 million in one state despite prevailing fiscal contraction.

  • The year 2021 ended with a significant increase in the reported tally of new COVID-19 cases. Active cases and deaths have increased significantly, breaching the mark of 100,000, and the reported daily cases have exceeded 20,000, with 1431 Omicron cases. The number of COVID-19 cases rose exponentially in urban centres by the end of December 2021. Cases increased significantly in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai, as well as in Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata during the last week of December 2021, a phenomenon also observed before the first and second waves, signalling the onset of a third wave.

  • The Government of India has rolled out a precautionary booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine to those aged 60 and above. From 3rd January 2022, India's vaccination drive against the coronavirus includes children aged 15 to 18 years old as it expands its inoculation effort to protect the world's largest adolescent population.