Most first world nations have endured the virus, and even those with excellent health systems – such as in the UK – have been badly struck. But bombshell new analysis by human rights organisation International Rescue Committee (IRC) shows a bleak prediction for those among the 34 worst crisis-affected countries served by the group. The charity claims up to one billion people in those nations will be struck by coronavirus if critical action is not urgently carried out.
It believes, within its ‘One Size Does Not Fit All: Mitigating COVID-19 in Humanitarian Setting’ report, among those to contract the disease, around 3.2 million deaths could occur as a result of COVID-19.
Countries described as crisis-affected include war zones such as Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.
The IRC’s president and chief executive officer, David Miliband, described the figures as a “wake-up call” of how “devastating” the pandemic could be on some of the world’s “most fragile” countries.
He added that livelihoods on a global front would be devastated on an “appalling scale”.
The data, according to the IRC, is based on possible response scenarios from each nation it has assessed.
They believe in a worst case scenario one billion will be struck, but they estimate this figure could be 500 million, with 1.7 million deaths.
The charity says its initial estimates were centred around epidemiological modelling and data compiled by the Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Within the statistics age structure, household size and social contact patterns of the countries – as well as death patterns from the original outbreak in China – are all reviewed for the figure to be found.
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However, there is a growing fear within the IRC that the initial numbers “may be conservative at best”.
They fear that healthcare capacity and virus reproduction rates, pre-existing humanitarian vulnerability and disruption to aid delivery will severely ramp up the contraction levels among the poorest nations on the globe.
IRC cited examples such as the WHO and ICL’s research, which uses the best mortality data from China, which only reviews Beijing’s healthcare system and death rate, as opposed to looking at a nation such as Venezuela, which has just one in 10 hospitals fully operational.
If the South American country’s health system was used within research, the IRC say the death toll and contraction rate could be higher.
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Mr Miliband said: “These numbers should serve as a wake-up call: the full, devastating and disproportionate weight of this pandemic has yet to be felt in the world’s most fragile and war-torn countries. We are still in the critical window of time to mount a robust preventative response to the early stages of COVID-19 in many of these countries and prevent a further perpetuation of this epidemic globally.”
He added: “The key now is for donors to urgently put flexible funding behind frontline efforts, already positioned to scale up and serve the most vulnerable. This requires consistent access to personal protective equipment, testing and isolation of all suspected cases, isolation units and handwashing stations.
“Donors, response actors and governments must work together to remove any impediment to humanitarian assistance- adapting restrictions to ensure access to COVID-19 supplies and equipment, food and other basic goods, as well as health, protection and livelihoods services.
“The IRC is implementing a comprehensive response strategy that aims to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and treat patients, but also focuses on meeting our clients’ other health and economic needs and expanding our protection services for women and girls. Without immediate international action that supports the needs and unique challenges faced by people in these countries in the face of COVID-19, the consequence will be the loss of life and livelihood on an appalling scale.”
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