The World Health Organization says 80,000 to 180,000 health workers may have been killed by Covid-19 through May of this year, insisting they must be prioritized for vaccination.
A WHO document estimated Thursday that of the 135 million health workers in the world, “between 80,000 and 180,000 health and care workers could have died from Covid-19 between January 2020 and May 2021”.
WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said healthcare workers must first be immunized against the disease, as he denounces the global inequity in the vaccine rollout.
“Data from 119 countries suggests that, on average, two in five health and care workers worldwide are fully immunized. But of course, this average masks huge differences between regions and economic groups.
“In Africa, less than one in 10 health workers has been fully immunized. Meanwhile, in most high-income countries, more than 80% of health workers are fully immunized. “
He added, “We call on all countries to ensure that all health and care workers in each country are given priority for Covid-19 vaccines, alongside other at-risk groups. “
Tedros said that more than 10 months after the first vaccines were approved by the WHO, the fact that millions of health workers still had not been vaccinated was an “indictment” against countries and companies controlling the global supply of doses.
Annette Kennedy, president of the International Council of Nurses, said the organization mourned all the healthcare workers who lost their lives – “a lot needlessly, a lot we could have saved”.
“This is a shocking indictment of governments. It’s a shocking accusation of their lack of due diligence to protect healthcare workers who have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. “
Kennedy added, “They are now exhausted, they are devastated, they are physically and mentally exhausted. And there is a prediction that 10% of them will leave within a very short time. “
WHO wants each country to have vaccinated 40% of its population by the end of the year, but Tedros said 82 countries were now at risk of missing that target, mainly due to insufficient supplies.
The Covid-19 has killed at least 4.9 million people since the outbreak of the epidemic in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources established by AFP, while nearly 242 million cases have been recorded.