Empathy plays a fundamental role in health related occupations. In this study, we analysed empathy levels in professionals (117) and students (170) from various healthcare fields in Ecuador during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Interpersonal Reactivity Index was used in an online survey. The results show high levels of empathy in both groups, influenced by age and gender. The students presented higher levels of personal distress, and their age was negatively correlated to empathy. Additionally, professionals working in physical health scored higher levels of personal distress compared to those in the field of emotional health. COVID-19 has placed social health systems in great stress. Despite this, the personal capacities for empathy of both students and health professionals have not been diminished.
Keywords: COVID-19; Ecuador; empathy; health personnel; university students.