Overall, the number of deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has remained low in both total and per capita terms relative to other regions. This may be driven, in part, by the youthful nature of the MENA’s populations and the relative strength of the healthcare systems in countries like the Gulf states. The visualization below tracks the number of deaths per million population for a sample of MENA countries. Initially, the highest number of deaths (per million population) was seen in Lebanon and Iraq. By June, however, deaths climbed in the Gulf states, which demonstrated some of the highest infection rates in the region at that point. Following a second wave of the virus in late summer 2020, deaths increased significantly in Iraq, Jordan, Oman, and Tunisia. By autumn 2020, fatalities within the Gulf states were among the lowest in the region. Since then, cumulative deaths have remained low in the Gulf; however, much of the region has struggled with a rising number of deaths as subsequent waves of the virus outstrip the ability of healthcare systems to treat patients. This is particularly the case in Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia, where the number of cumulative deaths has grown significantly over 2021.
Source: Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, and Joe Hasell, “Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19),” Our World in Data, accessed December 7, 2020, https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus.
Paul Dyer is a policy analyst with Brookings Doha Center, and Isaac Schaider and Andrew Letzkus are data analysts with the Brookings Doha Center.