COVID-19 Outbreak Readiness and Response
On this page you can find information and guidance on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. For the latest analysis, view the COVID-19 Impact on Humanitarian Emergencies: March 2021 Highlights.
The IASC Principals, supported by the IASC's Emergency Directors Group, are meeting regularly to assess the rapidly-evolving situation and determine necessary actions to urgently respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. To ensure that life-saving assistance is delivered to the most vulnerable people, the Principals have fast-tracked the release of critical guidance to support its members and the broader humanitarian community in emergency response and preparedness. They are committed to sustaining ongoing humanitarian operations to avoid further loss of lives and suffering and the aggravation of affected people’s vulnerabilities, while still prioritizing the provision of duty of care measures for staff.
Following the declaration of COVID-19 by WHO, the IASC Principals activated the IASC System-Wide Scale-Up Protocols adapted to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic emergency, from16 April 2020 for an initial period of six months and then extended until 17 January 2021. They build on the IASC Scale-Up activation for infectious diseases, which reflects the roles of WHO and its Director-General and Member States under the International Health Regulations (2005). The Scale-up Protocols were adapted to the global COVID-19 pandemic to support a joined-up and systematic response to the crisis. This first ever global system-wide emergency activation enabled a coordinated approach in scaling-up preparedness and response efforts, including through joint analysis, surge support, supply chain and logistical support, and resource mobilization.
The IASC with the coordination of OCHA quickly mobilized its members and partners and launched the first COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP), just two weeks after WHO’s announcement of a global pandemic – to address the immediate humanitarian consequences of the pandemic. With stepped up advocacy by the ERC and the IASC, and the generous support of donors, $3.7 bn of the 9.5 bn total ask was mobilized. This allowed the system to, meet critical lifesaving needs, including: provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits in 55 out of the 63 GHRP countries; addressing GBV with 100% of the GHRP countries receiving prevention messaging; 129 million children receiving virtual or home based learning; and provision of essential health services to 57 million people. Support to the GHRP helped establish the Global Common Services. Overview of the GHRP on the Financial Tracking Service here.
The IASC also successfully advocated with GAVI for the establishment of a COVAX humanitarian ‘buffer’, to ensure that up to 5 per cent of the COVID-19 vaccine doses procured through the COVAX facility will serve as a contingency stock for at-risk vulnerable populations in humanitarian settings. Experience shows that even for routine vaccinations, and despite governments’ best efforts, some people inevitably fall through the cracks. Therefore, in support of national government obligations, the IASC has continued to advocate for vulnerable populations to be part of planning processes.
Eighteen guidance documents have been developed jointly by a number of the IASC members and/or IASC Reference Groups, and are available in different languages.
- Gendered Implications of COVID-19 - Policy Paper (Care International)
COVID-19: How to include marginalized and vulnerable people in risk communication and community engagement (UN Women, WHO, IFRC, OCHA, and Translators without Borders)
COVID-19: Guidance and advice for older people (HelpAge International)
Protecting People and Economies: Integrated Policy Responses to COVID-19 (World Bank Group)
- Secretary-General's Policy Briefs on COVID-19 (United Nations)
- WHO Gender and COVID-19 Advocacy Brief (WHO)
- COVID-19 Global Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Strategy (WHO, UNICEF, IFRC)
- COVID-19 Distancing ESAfrica brief (SSHAP)
- COVID-19 Resources Relating to Accountability and Inclusion (Multiple Resources)
- Guidance Note: COVID-19 Response Readiness and Humanitarian Response Plan Revision (OCHA)
- Advice of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture to States Parties and National Preventive Mechanisms relating to the Coronavirus Pandemic (OHCHR)
- COVID-19 Resource Material (OCHA)
- COVID-19 and the Displaced: Addressing the Threat of the Novel Coronavirus in Humanitarian Emergencies (Refugees International)
- Glossary - A Guide to Coronavirus-Related Words (Merriam Webster)
- Global Rapid Gender Analysis for COVID-19 (Care International and IRC)
- Guidance note on the importation of Medicines and Medical Equipment in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) (IMPACCT)
- COVID-19 and Internal Displacement - Messages and Resources (UNHCR)
- COVID-19 and Shelter (Global Shelter Cluster)
- Advice on compulsory quarantine for Coronavirus (Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture) (OHCHR)
- 2020 Global Report on Food Crises - Joint Analysis for Better Decisions (FSIN)
- MEDEVAC During COVID-19 Pandemic (United Nations)
- The Sphere standards and the Coronavirus response (Sphere)
- COVID-19 and the impact on agriculture and food security (ILO)
- COVID-19: Access Challenges and the Implications of Border Restrictions (UNHCR & IOM)
- COVID-19 Supply Chain System documents (WHO)
- COVID-19 Resources (ACAPS)
- Commitments into Action: A holistic and coherent response to COVID-19 across the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus (UNSDG & OECD INCAF)
- FAQ on Data Responsibility in the COVID-19 (OCHA)