Can health care withstand a new COVID-19 variant? WHO fearful as China sees cases soar

Even though China is dealing with a severe COVID outbreak, that doesn’t mean that other nations in the world are in the clear, Dr. Mike Ryan says.

Can health care withstand a new COVID-19 variant? WHO fearful as China sees cases soar

There are still “huge weaknesses” in the world’s health-care system that could be exposed if a new COVID variant takes dominance, a WHO official said Wednesday.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, told reporters during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, that he doesn’t think the world is ready to “take the hit” of another wave of a new COVID variant, amid concerns in China over rapidly growing infections there.

“We have health workers who are tired. The incidence of PTSD and social anxiety syndromes in health workers is very high. Many health workers are leaving the field,” he said.

“Health workers have seen their incomes fall behind as they have worked hard at the frontline. As the economic crisis hit, they were left behind and they’re now looking at the stark future of less pay for more work, more stress, for less recognition, and many are choosing to leave the field.

For close to three years, health-care systems across the world have dealt with wave after wave of COVID-19 infections. COVID-19 vaccines have reduced the likelihood of severe outcomes, but given immunity wanes, health officials — including those in Canada — have urged for the population to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations to protect the health-care system.

Health experts are growing worried over the COVID-19 situation in China. Beijing recently began easing some strict measures implemented as part of its “zero COVID” system following unprecedented protests calling for their removal.