Thursday, March 25, 2021

Patients should receive COVID-19 vaccine before surgery to reduce risk of death


News Release 24-Mar-2021
University of Birmingham


Governments should prioritise surgical patients for COVID-19 vaccination

Patients waiting for elective surgery should get COVID-19 vaccines ahead of the general population - potentially helping to avoid thousands of post-operative deaths linked to the virus, according to a new study funded by the NIHR.

Between 0.6% and 1.6% of patients develop COVID-19 infection after elective surgery. Patients who develop COVID-19 infection are at between 4- and 8-fold increased risk of death in the 30 days following surgery. For example, whereas patients aged 70 years and over undergoing cancer surgery would usually have a 2.8% mortality rate, this increases to 18.6% if they develop COVID-19 infection.

Based on the high risks that surgical patients face, scientists calculate that vaccination of surgical patients is more likely to prevent COVID-19 related deaths than vaccines given to the population at large - particularly among the over-70s and those undergoing surgery for cancer. For example, whereas 1,840 people aged 70 years and over in the general population need to be vaccinated to save one life over one year, this figure is only 351 in patients aged 70 years and over having cancer surgery.


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