Scientists from St Petersburg University have taken part in a large-scale project to study SARSCoV-2 in surgical patients. One of the findings of the study is that vaccinations will help prevent more than 58,000 coronavirus-related deaths a year. 15,025 researchers from 122 countries have taken part in the work to make a new world record for the number of authors of a scientific article.

The researchers’ goal was to determine how COVID affects the results of surgical interventions and how to minimise the risk of infection during elective surgery. The first COVID-19 wave caused about 70% of the world’s operations (28 million) to be postponed or cancelled. It was found that COVID-19 before or after surgery increases the probability of postoperative mortality.

The international team of surgeons and scientists from CovidSurg analysed 140,000 patients’ data from 116 countries. Their aim was to develop clinical guidelines for the surgical treatment of patients with coronavirus and for reducing the risk of infection in the postoperative period.

The study participants were clinicians, residents and students of St Petersburg University. Six research groups worked in the clinical departments of cardiovascular surgery, urology, traumatology, gynaecology, endocrine surgery and general surgery at the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies at the University.

The goal was to collect clinical data – anamneses, medical histories, COVID status, operation characteristics – of all patients hospitalised for elective surgery within one week. After 30 days, the immediate results of treatment were assessed. The data were recorded in an online individual registration card available to the organisers of the study.

We have learned more about how COVID-19 affects prognosis and overall surgical outcomes. This will enable both our specialists and doctors around the world to better plan surgical interventions and increase the safety of treatment.

Sergei Efremov, Head of the Research Department, anaesthesiologist-resuscitator at the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies, St Petersburg University

One of the main conclusions that scientists have come to is that patients preparing for surgery should be vaccinated as a priority. Among the most vulnerable patients are elderly people above 70 years old. They should be vaccinated first. According to the researchers, priority preoperative vaccination of routine surgical patients will help avoid more than 58,000 COVID-associated deaths a year.