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Emerging COVID-19 implications for humanitarian operations in developing countries

Imperial College recently produced analysis on the potential global impact of Covid-19. The analysis includes predictions on how health measures could restrict Covid-19 contagion, serious illness and mortality rates across the world. Within this analysis some interesting findings emerged on the impact of Covid-19 on developing countries and how these countries are likely to have a very different experience of Covid-19. Current health measures on Covid-19 are largely focused on the following logic:

Medical consensus is that best way to achieve this goal of reducing the number of deaths is a combination of social restrictions (lockdown) and isolation of those reasonably expected to be most vulnerable to serious Covid-19 illness. In most research and modelling, predictions suggest that these measures could reduce the number of deaths in High Income Countries from c9 deaths per 1000 population to c3 deaths per 1000 population. Put another way, for Europe and Central Asia that’s the difference between roughly 7 million deaths and somewhere in the region of 280,000  (the latter figure depending on when restrictions come into force). But modelling suggests that this huge reduction in the number of potential deaths does not occur when  the same restrictions are applied in Low Income Countries.  In these countries even with lockdown and isolation measures, the overall number of deaths is predicted to reduce from c2.1 deaths per 1000 of population to c1.8 per 1000 population. Or, again to put it another way, comparatively far fewer deaths will be prevented by lockdown and isolation measures in developing countries compared to other higher income countries. That doesn’t mean these measures may prevent some deaths rather that they are of much more limited effect.

Why? Let’s go back to two reasons for lockdown and isolation: 1. Reduction of contagion through lockdown wil