Council Commentary

A Year Into the Pandemic

This past year, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted every country, every community, and every person in this world – but not equally nor in the same ways. For communities who experience vulnerability and marginalization, because structural barriers such as economic inequality, racism, harmful gender norms, and numerous other intertwining factors, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have been exacerbated and inequalities even further exposed.

Knowing the potential impacts the pandemic could pose on individuals and communities, we leveraged proven tools and strategies we have used in other global health crises, and rapidly deployed them across 13 countries—often generating and sharing data in real-time. These efforts to provide context-specific data on what was happening, to whom, and the potential risks to their health and wellbeing helped, and continue to inform, the decision making of health authorities and policy makers in India, Kenya, Mexico and many other countries.

Our Research in Humanitarian Settings Task Force (HTF) has been leading the Council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These researchers and scientists are working with partners around the world to continue to tackle the damaging impact of the pandemic on the health, education, and economic sectors using their expertise in biomedical research and social and behavioral science research. Below we share highlights from our continued COVID-19 response and invite you to visit our new Research in Humanitarian Settings webpage to learn more and access the latest data and perspective on our ongoing COVID-19 response.

Aiding Government Responses to COVID-19

  • IN INDIA, our researchers were the first to develop a composite measure of community-level vulnerability to COVID-19 based on findings that specific regions and communities were more vulnerable than others. They created a state and district-level vulnerability index, which is helping the government’s efforts in responding more effectively to the fast-developing COVID-19 epidemic in India.
  • IN KENYA, Council-generated data on COVID-19 has been used to inform the government’s public messaging; to support policy action and the creation of national guidance by drawing attention to evolving needs; and to reinforce collaboration and information sharing with other partners on the ground.
  • IN MEXICO, Council researchers, as part of Violence Outcomes in COVID-19 EPOCH Study (VoCes-19), are implementing a nationwide, longitudinal cohort study utilizing online surveys to reach more than 22,000 adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 24 to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the experience and perception of violence among this population, as well as its impact on other social, economic, and health outcomes.

Reflecting on the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Seeing a need for a different kind of academic space to allow authors to reflect on the immediate effects of the pandemic and project into the demographic future, the Population Council's scholarly journal, Population and Development Review, published a collection 16 essays from demographers around the world. Read the special issue.

We thank our colleagues, partners, and donors for working together with us to utilize this evidence to inform policies and deploy interventions to help minimize the devastating effects of the pandemic.