Over 52 million people worldwide have been infected by COVID-19 this year, a figure that continues to rise at a quickening pace. Of these, nearly 300,000 are frontline health care workers, including doctors and nurses. In some areas where the spread is at its worse now, there is a worry that so many of these people will get sick, or already have been infected, that there will not be enough of them to care for the skyrocketing number of new cases.
The data comes from an article in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, which was reported on by Reuters. The authors are Dr. Hakan Erdem, coordinator of the Infectious Diseases International Research Initiative in Ankara, Turkey, and Dr. Daniel Lucey of Georgetown University Medical Center. They took data from 37 countries. Since the sources by country are not common, there is no one methodology to make this count. Therefore, the figures are unlikely to be accurate, and the authors believe the posted total is too low.
The research paper starts with this observation:
The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing devastating threat to human lives and livelihoods around the world. Health-care workers (HCW) are part of the frontline in the struggle against the pandemic. Many HCWs have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 and have lost their lives worldwide during the pandemic.
The authors want the World Health Organization to start a system to count accurately the number of health care workers who are infected so that reported numbers can be correct. They also believe that an accurate report from the WHO will make the gravity of the situation more visible to the public.
How much could the estimate in the analyst be wrong? The authors wrote: “On September 2, the WHO Pan American Regional Office in Washington, DC reported 570,000 health workers infected and 2,500 dead due to COVID-19 (2020).” So, the estimate from their research could be too low by half. Moreover, well over a month has passed since this 570,000 estimate.
The only takeaway from the research that is certainly accurate is the number of health care workers who have contracted COVID-19 is staggering.