Feb 21, 2020 - Health

The coronavirus outbreak is delaying surgeries in China

Illustration of a cell as a wrecking ball

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The novel coronavirus has put a halt to pretty much every health-related activity in parts of China, including elective surgeries like hip and knee replacements.

Between the lines: Medical device companies are starting to forecast large sales declines in their Chinese markets because people are staying at home.

  • Executives at Smith & Nephew — a device maker with $5 billion in annual revenue, of which $360 million came from China — said elective procedures in its Chinese market fell upwards of 90% in the three weeks of the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Medtronic officials similarly said the coronavirus will have "a negative impact" in the first part of this year.
  • China represents a small part of Stryker's device sales, and executives said it's "too early to get into details about coronavirus." 

Yes, but: People are expected to reschedule surgeries soon, assuming the outbreak tempers, and regular volumes in China are estimated to resume starting in April.

  • "If someone needs an artificial hip, that demand will still be there in a couple of months' time. The question of course is, how quickly will the situation recover, and what is the capacity in the system to then actually make up for this pent-up demand?" Smith & Nephew CEO Roland Diggelmann told investors yesterday.

Go deeper: Coronavirus slams companies' 2020 sales projections

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