Author: Emma Charlton, Senior Writer, Formative Content
- 28 million elective surgeries across the globe may be cancelled during 12 weeks of peak disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Study indicates that each extra week of disruption is associated with 2.4 million cancellations.
- 38% of global cancer surgery has been postponed or cancelled.
- Backlog could take 45 weeks to clear.
COVID-19’s long-lasting impact on our health could include more than 28 million cancelled or postponed operations, creating a backlog that will take the best part of a year to clear. And the number could be even worse if lockdowns continue for longer, according to a new study.
Using data from surgeons in 359 hospitals across 71 countries, CovidSurg Collaborative researchers, including those from the University of Birmingham, created a statistical model to estimate the total number of cancelled elective surgeries during 12 weeks of peak disruption in 190 countries. Their result was 2,367,050 operations per week.
These numbers are likely to worsen for each additional week that the lockdown or restrictions continue, underscoring how COVID-19’s widespread scars on health go beyond the direct impact of the virus. The United Nations has already warned that pregnancy and birth services will probably suffer, and some mass vaccination campaigns have been temporarily suspended.
“Cancelling elective surgery at this scale will have substantial impact on patients and cumulative, potentially devastating consequences for health systems worldwide,” says Aneel Bhangu, a consultant surgeon and senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham.
“Delaying time-sensitive elective operations, such as cancer or transplant surgery, may lead to deteriorating health, worsening quality of life, and unnecessary deaths.”
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