Up to 180,000 healthcare workers may have been killed by Covid, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said as it calls on leaders in the global south to prioritise front line staff in their vaccine programmes.
A WHO report published on Thursday estimated that between 80,000 to 180,000 staff could have succumbed to the disease in the period from January 2020 to May this year.
Speaking after the paper was published, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of WHO, said frontline health workers must be prioritised for jabs along with other vulnerable people as he hit out at the inequitable distribution of vaccines around the globe.
“Data from 119 countries suggest that on average, two in five health and care workers globally are fully vaccinated. But of course that average masks huge differences across regions and economic groupings," he said.
“In Africa, less than in one in 10 health workers have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, in most high-income countries, more than 80 per cent of health workers are fully vaccinated.”
Dr Tedros added: “We call on all countries to ensure that all health and care workers in every country are prioritised for Covid-19 vaccines, alongside other at-risk groups.”
The WHO has set countries a target of giving 40 per cent of the population at least one injection by the end of the year.
But Tedros said some 82 nations are at risk of missing the target, meaning the pandemic could continue well into next year.
He blamed vaccine supply shortages in less economically developed countries.
According to Our World in data, North America, South America, Europe, most of Asia and Australasia are all either above the 40 per cent target or are on course to hit it.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of African countries are not on track to reach the 40 per cent level of vaccination.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there has been a total of 4,931,810 deaths, 242,597,420 confirmed cases and 6,741,171,106 vaccinations.
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