INFORM COVID-19 Risk Index Version 0.1.2 - Results and Analysis (17 April 2020)




INFORM is a multi-stakeholder forum for developing shared, quantitative analysis relevant to humanitarian crises and disasters. INFORM includes organisations from across the multilateral system, including the humanitarian and development sector, donors, and technical partners. The Joint Research Center of European Commission is the scientific and technical lead for INFORM.

INFORM is developing a suite of quantitative, analytical products to support decision-making on humanitarian crises and disasters. These help make decisions at different stages of the disaster management cycle, specifically prevention, preparedness and response. INFORM develops methodologies and tools for use at the global level and also supports their application at subnational level.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, INFORM has released a COVID Risk Index to support the specific decision-making needs of humanitarian and other organisations.

Purpose and scope

The INFORM COVID-19 Risk Index is a composite index that identifies: “countries at risk from health and humanitarian impacts of COVID-19 that could overwhelm current national response capacity, and therefore lead to a need for additional international assistance”.

The INFORM COVID-19 Risk Index is primarily concerned with structural risk factors, i.e. those that existed before the outbreak. In other words, it tells us about the risk from COVID-19 if there is community transmission of the disease in a country. It can be used to support prioritization of preparedness and early response actions for the primary impacts of the pandemic, and identify countries where secondary impacts are likely to have the most critical humanitarian consequences.

The main scope of the INFORM COVID-19 Risk Index is global and regional risk-informed resource allocation, i.e. where comparable understanding of countries’ risk is important.

It cannot predict the impacts of the pandemic in individual countries. It does not consider the mechanisms behind secondary impacts - for example how a COVID-19 outbreak could increase conflict risk.
INFORM is working on developing other products that can help monitor changing risks as a result of the pandemic.


Starting points

The INFORM Epidemic Risk Index is highly relevant, easily adapted and was developed through an extensive process prior to COVID-19. Therefore it has been used as the starting point for a COVID-19 specific risk index, with the structure and relevant indicators retained as far as possible.

The INFORM Epidemic Risk Index consists of Hazard & Exposure, Vulnerability and Lack of Coping Capacity dimensions. The Person to Person component of Hazard & Exposure is the most relevant to COVID-19 and is used alone.

Vulnerability and Lack of Coping Capacity consist of hazard dependent (specific to the epidemic hazard) and hazard independent (relevant to all hazards covered by the INFORM Global Risk Index). Both parts are retained:

• There are many indicators or broader vulnerability and lack of coping capacity that are directly relevant for COVID-19.

• COVID-19 will compound existing risks (i.e. will not happen alone), so broader factors of vulnerability and lack of coping capacity are important when considering the humanitarian impact of the pandemic.   

The main focus of the adaptation for COVID-19 is improvement of the hazard-dependent parts of the index (i.e. factors specific to COVID-19), but within the existing structure.   

The COVID-19 Risk Index (like other INFORM risk indexes) is focused on structural factors. It does not contain rapidly changing information, for example on cases, government restrictions, and changing health system capacity in response to the pandemic. However, INFORM is looking at how dynamic risk information on COVID-19 can be organised and potentially aggregated for use in conjunction with the risk index.   

Only risk factors for which there is sufficient evidence are included.