Healthcare systems are experiencing extreme pressures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Medical resources and staff being diverted to respond to the crisis, lockdowns and quarantine are restricting access to cancer care (e.g. treatments delayed and cancer screening services cancelled), and reports are also emerging of disruptions to drug and equipment supply chains. Clinical trials and research projects are on hold, university campuses are closed, conferences are being postponed and many cancer organisations are facing up to an as yet unknown financial impact of the crisis.
The cancer community requires a better understanding of the consequences for future prevalence and mortality rates, the short- and long-term impact on the oncology workforce and, most importantly at the present time, what coronavirus means for patients with cancer – recognising, on the one hand, the potential increased risk of COVID-19 infection and, on the other, the uncertainty with regards to cancer as a comorbidity.
“The global Covid-19 pandemic simultaneously unites the world against a common threat, and highlights the massive differences between countries in terms of their capacity and willingness to act. We need data to understand the impact of our decisions now, and the more we share, the clearer the picture is likely to become”
– Diana Sarfati Interim Chief Executive, Cancer Control Agency, and University of Otago, New Zealand
The health community responses to the coronavirus pandemic to date have focused solely on the trajectory of the infection and mortality based on coronavirus interventions alone. Therefore, recognising the full spectrum of health, social and economic consequences of the pandemic and the importance of including all perspectives in infectious disease modelling approaches, UICC has joined a global taskforce with three identified priorities:
- To assess the impact of COVID-19 on cancer outcomes, with an emphasis on real-time analysis.
- To strengthen the collaboration between infectious disease and cancer modellers in the immediate and longer-term.
- To assess the national impact on frontline healthcare workers as the pandemic progresses.
“The social and economic consequences of Covid-19 will profoundly impact human health – well beyond immediate deaths from infection. The Covid-19 and Cancer Task Force brings together clinicians, investigators, advocates, and policy-makers from the global oncology community to understand how to respond to these challenges. One of the first steps will be to facilitate collection and sharing of high-quality health system data.”
– Professor Christopher Booth, Queen’s University Cancer Research Institute, Kingston, Canada
How can you contribute?
The task force has developed a high-level survey to respond to priority one. UICC members are invited to contribute directly or share the survey with colleagues, using the survey on SurveyMonkey(link is external). Contributions are highly appreciated and should be submitted before Sunday 3 May 2020.
Priority two will be addressed by a modelling consortium. Please see here the call for Expressions of Interest for researchers interested in joining the consortium.
If your organisation has any queries, please contact:
Julie Torode, Director of Special Projects