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The global impact of Covid-19

A discussion about the short and long-term impacts of the pandemic

Written by Luke Warrington 2022

An old man washing his hands at a mobile hand-washing station in Bangladesh

Encouraging people to wash their hands regularly and wear face masks to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in Bangladesh. Photo: Tearfund partner

A Congolese man washes his hands at a community wash station

From: Covid-19: Footsteps Special Edition

A practical resource on Covid-19 including how to address misinformation and the long-term impacts of the pandemic

The World Health Organization first learnt of the virus that causes Covid-19 on 31 December 2019.

Between then and now (April 2022), more than 494 million cases have been reported worldwide, and more than 6 million people have lost their lives.

As with most challenges the world faces, such as climate change and conflict, it is the world’s most vulnerable people who are suffering the most. But all of us have been affected by Covid-19 in one way or another.

  • Restrictions on movement put in place to reduce the spread of the disease have resulted in job and income losses. This has been particularly strongly felt in the informal sector of low- and middle-income countries, where many depend on daily wages.
  • Children have lost opportunities to play, socialise and learn. For some, this has resulted in delays in development, as well as emotional and educational challenges.
  • With the added pressure put on health services, many people have missed out on appointments, treatment and access to medication for conditions other than Covid-19.
  • Mental health has been affected by the loss of loved ones, separation from community and family members, and health and financial concerns. As well as the worsening of pre-existing conditions, high numbers of people have experienced depression, anxiety, trauma and other conditions for the first time.
  • The combination of health, economic and emotional stresses has resulted in increased levels of violence and abuse in the home, particularly affecting women
    and children.
  • Fear and lack of understanding of the disease have led to conspiracy theories, stigma and hostility towards people who are trying to help combat the disease.
  • In many countries an overabundance of information about the pandemic – some accurate and some not – has made it difficult for people to find reliable guidance when they need it.
A lady with a face-mask giving a food parcel to a smiling woman in Columbia

In Colombia, Tearfund’s partner, Crecer con Amor (Grow with Love), has been delivering food parcels to people unable to earn money because of Covid-19 restrictions. Photo: Edrai Cueto/Tearfund

The role of the church

Although many churches have had to close their doors during periods of lockdown, they have found new ways to provide practical assistance and spiritual and emotional support to the people worst affected by the pandemic. In many places the internet, radio, podcasts, email, social media, texts and phone calls have become invaluable ways to keep people connected, supported and well informed.

The church has a particularly important role to play in sharing trustworthy information. The World Health Organization recognises that when faith leaders share health information it is more likely to be accepted than from other sources, and research in Asia and Africa suggests that endorsement by religious leaders is vital for community acceptance of Covid-19 vaccines.


The impacts of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come, but there is also cause for hope. The disease has stimulated societies and scientists to cooperate rather than compete, speeding up the development of new systems and medical solutions, including vaccines. And in many places local organisations, governments, churches and communities have started working together in new ways to enhance economic, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Written by

Written by  Luke Warrington

Luke Warrington is a Project Information Officer in Tearfund’s Global Fundraising Group.

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