In only a few weeks, COVID-19 has profoundly changed our lives, causing tremendous human suffering and challenging the most basic foundations of societal well-being. Beyond the immediate impacts on health, jobs and incomes, the epidemic is increasing people’s anxiety and worry, affecting their social relations, their trust in other people and in institutions, their personal security and sense of belonging. The short and medium-term impacts of COVID-19 will be particularly severe for the most disadvantaged and risk compounding existing socio-economic divides. This policy brief looks at the broad range of effects that COVID-19 will have on different aspects of people’s lives, with a focus on specific population groups such as children, women and the elderly. It calls for rapid and decisive action by governments in order to support the most vulnerable people highlighting the importance of a broad and coordinated policy response that includes strengthened social protection, education, health care, housing support and specific interventions to enhance personal security of women and children, as well as actions supporting vulnerable workers, small businesses, communities and regions left behind.