Coronavirus could cause 28 million cancelled surgeries globally: Study
Some 28.4 million planned surgeries could be cancelled or postponed globally due to the new coronavirus pandemic, according to new research warning that huge backlogs risk “potentially devastating” consequences for patients and health systems.
The study, published this week in the British Journal of Surgery, modelled the expected number of elective operations that would be put on hold in 190 countries during a 12-week peak of COVID-19 disruption.
Hospitals in countries grappling with major coronavirus outbreaks have postponed most non-emergency procedures to avoid putting patients at risk, redeploying staff and resources to the virus response.
Researchers from the COVIDSurg Collaborative, an information sharing network of surgeons and anaesthetists in 77 countries, estimated that some 2.4 million operations would be cancelled per week in the period, or 28.4 million in total.
They called on governments to urgently develop recovery plans to clear the backlog of surgeries and prepare for possible further waves of COVID-19 infection.
“Cancelling elective surgery at this scale will have substantial impact on patients and cumulative, potentially devastating consequences for health systems worldwide,” the authors said.
“Delaying time-sensitive elective operations, such as cancer or transplant surgery, may lead to deteriorating health, worsening quality of life, and unnecessary deaths.”
Globally, around 82 percent of benign surgeries, 38 percent of cancer operations and around a quarter of elective Caesarean sections would be cancelled or postponed, the study found.
It said that it would take an average of 45 weeks to clear the backlog, assuming that countries boost their normal surgical volume by 20 percent.
The researchers used survey data from specialists at 359 hospitals in 71 countries, as well as information on normal surgery rates to model the likely effect across 190 countries.
Their estimate that the peak surge of infections would last around 12 weeks was based on the experience of China’s Hubei province, where the virus emerged.
With the milder but more contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5 spreading across the continent, the 53 countries in the WHO European region are currently registering just under 500,000 cases daily, according to the organisation's data. That is up from around 150,000 cases daily at the end of May. Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and Portugal were the countries with the highest incidence rates, with almost all countries in the region seeing a rise in cases.
China's embassy in New Zealand rebuked New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for comments she made at the NATO summit about Chinese assertiveness, calling them "misguided" and "wrong". Ardern said on Wednesday in Madrid that China has "in recent times also become more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms." New Zealand, which is heavily reliant on China for trade, has often shied away from direct criticism of Beijing.
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Judges in Florida and Kentucky on Thursday moved to block those states from enforcing bans or restrictions on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had established a nationwide right to it. In Kentucky, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from enforcing a ban passed in 2019 and triggered by the Supreme Court's decision.
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