Up to 180,000 Healthcare Workers Killed by COVID-19, WHO Estimates

COVID-19 may have killed between 80,000 to 180,000 healthcare workers from January 2020 to May 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Oct. 21.

In a 26-page working paper, WHO based the grim estimate from the 3.45 million reported COVID-19 related deaths as of May 2021 and warned that it is up to 60% lower than the actual death toll.

There are globally over 135 million healthcare workers, WHO estimated.

“These deaths are a tragic loss. They are also an irreplaceable gap in the world’s pandemic response,” WHO said in a joint statement.

Aside from deaths, WHO also expressed concern on the increasing proportion of the healthcare workforce suffering from burnout, stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

WHO called on governments of its member states, as well as stakeholders, for better protection of healthcare workers, including disaggregating data and accelerating vaccination in the workforce.

“We cannot afford to lose more health and care workers and our world will not recover from the pandemic without long-term, sustainable investments in the health workforce,” International Pharmaceutical Federation Chief Executive Catherine Duggan said in a statement.

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