COVID-19 Data Explorer: Global Humanitarian Operations Monthly Highlights, 31 May 2021

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Top 6 highlights to know:

• In May, more than 5 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 140,000 deaths were recorded in countries in the Global Humanitarian Overview. This is a decline compared to April, but still represents over a third of global cases and more than half of global deaths. A similar downward trend was experienced in countries with an inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) but this is not uniform. At the end of May, several countries were experiencing increasing trends in cases and deaths, including Colombia, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Haiti.

• The burden of the pandemic has now shifted to Low and Middle-income countries (LMICs). In January 2021, LMICs accounted for seven per cent of new cases and less than ten per cent of new deaths. In May, 52 per cent of the new cases and 40 per cent of new deaths were in LMICs. Over the same period, cases and deaths have dropped precipitously in high-income countries (HICs) as vaccination coverage has increased.

• Variants of Concern (VoCs) have continued to rapidly spread in GHO countries, with at least 39 countries verifying or pending verification of at least one variant. VoCs are present in 16 countries with a Humanitarian Response Plan, with half of those countries verifying at least two. In the absence of the availability of vaccines, public health and safety measures (PHSM) will be critical to preventing community transmission, but there is insufficient or low compliance with PHSM’s in many HRP countries.

• In May, deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to HRP countries were the lowest since February. This trend looks set to continue over the second half of 2021. Administration of vaccines continues to be slow in many HRP countries, with a third of countries administering less than 20 per cent of delivered doses. The international community must simultaneously increase vaccine supply to HRP countries and provide more support to ensure countries have the capacity to administer vaccines, including through battling the vaccine hesitancy that is emerging in many HRP countries.

• The international community, including the global humanitarian system, should support national authorities in HRP countries to prepare for further severe outbreaks. The situation across Latin America, India and Nepal demonstrate the vulnerability of HRP countries to severe outbreaks of COVID-19 in the context of more transmissible VoCs, pandemic fatigue, insufficient PHSM and minimal vaccines. Preparations should be made to scale-up testing, diagnostics, PPEs, oxygen and other vital equipment, along with economic and social protection measures to mitigate the impacts of renewed, stringent lockdowns.

• In HRP countries the increased public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is compounding existing vulnerabilities. This includes conflict, food insecurity, climatic events and displacement. According to the INFORM Severity Index, half of HRP countries have increased in severity since the beginning of the year. COVID-19 must be addressed so it does not further exacerbate humanitarian crises. At the same time, the COVID-19 response cannot divert resources from addressing life-saving needs. The GHO has only received 18 percent of its funding requirements.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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