The United Nations's deputy humanitarian chief warned the U.N. Security Council on Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting countries impacted by conflict and poverty much worse this year than it did in 2020.
The Associated Press reported that Ramesh Rajasingham told the Security Council in a closed briefing that those countries are experiencing higher cases and an increase in deaths, which is largely driven by a lack of access to vaccines, the lessening of public health measures, increased social interaction and the highly infectious delta variant.
The AP obtained a copy of the briefing.
Rajasingham reportedly said that nearly three-quarters of the countries that need humanitarian aid have reported more COVID-19 infections or deaths in 2021 so far compared to all of 2020.
He also reportedly said that in more than one-third of the countries “at least three times more cases or deaths have been recorded this year compared to last,” according to the AP.
The threat of COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks, as cases begin to rise largely because of the delta variant and looser social restrictions.
Infections have swelled in the U.S., mainly impacting pockets of the country with populations that have not been vaccinated.
The spike in COVID-19 cases has also threatened the Olympics, which are currently underway in Tokyo after a year delay due to the pandemic.
A number of athletes have tested positive for the virus, effectively disqualifying them from competing.
Tokyo hit its six-month high in cases one day before the opening ceremony for the games, which took place on Friday.
As a result of the pandemic, no spectators are allowed to attend the games.