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A WFP plane drops food aid in South Sudan in February. Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images

The pandemic is not only making it harder for people in developing countries to afford food, it's making it harder to get food and supplies into those countries in the first place.

Zoom in: The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) is tasked with filling many of those gaps, supplying food aid to 100 million people. Since late March, it has also been transporting health workers, medical supplies and other humanitarian cargo all over the world through its Humanitarian Air Service.

“At some point we ended up being the largest airline flying, in a way,” Amer Daoudi, who oversees logistics for WFP, tells Axios.

  • They’ve established regional hubs in Asia, Africa and Latin America. More than 120 countries are expecting supplies just in the next six weeks.
  • “Basically today, in many countries around the world, we’re the only game in town,” Daoudi says. That applies to getting supplies in, and getting evacuees out.
  • The supplies are provided at no cost to the local country — particularly important given the well-documented phenomenon of wealthier countries outbidding poorer ones for PPE and medical equipment.

There’s a problem. “By the third week of July, unless we urgently receive funding, we will have to suspend our services," Daoudi says.

  • He'll be sounding the alarm on Friday at the UN, calling on both donor countries and the private sector to step up.
  • “I keep warning, don't look at Europe easing up and think we have seen how bad the situation will get with this virus,” he says, noting that case counts are going up in the developing world.

What to watch: WFP director David Beasley, meanwhile, is warning of a possible "hunger pandemic," with famine spreading to up to 35 countries and the number of hungry people worldwide doubling.

  • The pandemic is deepening poverty, which breeds hunger, which leads to cycles of migration and instability.

Go deeper: South Asia emerges as a coronavirus hotspot

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker