The High Toll of Covid-19

Dear colleagues,

I hope all have remained safe and well. It has obviously been a horrible year for so many people around the world. We, in Australia have been extremely fortunate-probably from a combination of good management and good luck.

In Italy alone, about 300 doctors have died of COVID 19.

With regard to healthcare workers in general, in the UK, about 1000 have died and in the USA , it’s well over 3000. Not surprisingly in a recent survey, burnout in USA doctors has hit record levels.

Other than in South Africa, which has suffered terribly with 1.5 million cases and 50,000 deaths (in a country off 60 million people), and over 400 health care staff deaths, Africa, superficially, seems to have fared fairly well. However, as noted in my last newsletter, most of Africa has the additional major challenges of extreme poverty, lack of medical staff and poor medical infrastructure.

In addition, there is almost certainly a massive underestimation of COVID cases in Africa. Testing is distinctly uncommon and even deaths are often not properly tabulated.  Moreover, – The following report from a few days ago;

“Deaths from COVID-19 in Africa have surged by 40% in the last month, pushing Africa’s death toll towards 100 000 since the first reported case on the continent on 14 February 2020. This comes as Africa battles new, more contagious variants and gears up for its largest-ever vaccination drive”.

“The increasing deaths from COVID-19 we are seeing are tragic, but are also disturbing warning signs that health workers and health systems in Africa are dangerously overstretched.” Said WHO Regional Director for Africa .“Health facilities have become overwhelmed. Preliminary reports which WHO has received from 21 countries show that 66% reported inadequate critical care capacity, 24% reported burnout among health workers and 15 countries reported that oxygen production, crucial for severely ill COVID-19 patients, remains insufficient.”

We need to support our colleagues in Africa not only for their sakes and the sakes of their patients and because it is the right thing to do but also to protect ourselves. We will get vaccinated but what if a new virulent strain develops in Africa that our current vaccines don’t protect us from?

In very many ways, we are all in this together.


Regards to all

Rob Baume

On behalf of the Directors of Twice the Doctor Foundation