People in low-income and conflict-affected countries have so far largely escaped the high levels of Covid-19 infection seen in western Europe and the US, although this may be changing.
The pandemic is killing them in different ways: lost jobs, ruined businesses, increased poverty, rising malnutrition and risk of famine, and a prospective increase in untreated, non-Covid preventable illnesses.
For many of the most vulnerable, the developed world’s cures are proving worse than the disease. At the extreme, families must choose between going hungry and getting ill.
And their plight is exacerbated by Covid-style “underlying conditions” – chronic, pre-existing political, security, economic, and climate problems that grow ever more unsustainable.
A Covid tidal wave may be about to hit sub-Saharan Africa and other less resilient regions, the International Rescue Committee warned last week. Without urgent international action, the virus could cause 1bn infections and 3.2m deaths in 34 fragile states, including Afghanistan and Syria, it said.
The World Health Organization has issued similar alerts. Yet even if these worst-case outcomes are somehow avoided, poorer countries already face enormous collateral damage.
For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security, and no future Guy Ryder, International Labour Organization