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The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on access to treatment for children with cancer in India and treating centre practices: Results of the InPOG-ACC-20-04 study
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  • Jyotsna Sharma,
  • amita mahajan,
  • Sameer Bakhshi,
  • Veerendra Patil,
  • Nishant Verma,
  • Venkatraman Radhakrishnan,
  • Amitabh Singh,
  • Smita Kayal,
  • Rachna Seth,
  • Deepam Pushpam,
  • Ramandeep Arora
Jyotsna Sharma
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amita mahajan
Indraprastha Apollo Hospital
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Sameer Bakhshi
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Veerendra Patil
Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital & Research Institute
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Nishant Verma
King George's Medical University
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Venkatraman Radhakrishnan
Cancer Institute-WIA
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Amitabh Singh
Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital
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Smita Kayal
Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research
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Rachna Seth
All India Institute of Medical Sciences
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Deepam Pushpam
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Ramandeep Arora
Max Super-Speciality Hospital

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Background The COVID-19 pandemic had led the Indian government to announce a nationwide lockdown on the 23rd of March 2020. This study (InPOG-ACC-20-04) aimed to explore the impact of this on the accessibility of care of children with cancer in India and to see strategies adopted by hospitals for service delivery during the lockdown. Procedure Weekly average childhood cancer (<18 years) patient registrations during pre-lockdown period (Jan 1st, 2020 to March 23rd 2020) were compared with the post-lockdown period (Mar 24th, 2020 to May 31st, 2020). The effect on the scheduled treatment was investigated for the post-lockdown period. A survey of health care providers was conducted to determine centres’ strategies to deal with the effect of COVID-19. Results In 30 centres participating in this study, 1146 childhood cancer patients were registered from Jan 1st, 2020 to May 31st 2020. The weekly average patient registration was 67.3 pre-lockdown and 35.5 post-lockdown which was a decline of 47.3% with travel distance being a factor. While most centres experience this decline, there were a few who saw an increase in patient registrations. Of those patients scheduled for treatment during the post-lockdown period, 36.1% experience delays in one or more modalities. Centres adopted several strategies to including modifications to treatment protocols, increased use of growth factors, and increased support from social organisations. Conclusion Our multicentre study from India suggests that the COVID19 pandemic and the lockdown impacted two out of three children with cancer. The effect of this on survival remains to be established.