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Coronavirus: Effect On Oncology. Will The 2020 Annual Meetings Happen?

(The Cancer Letter) Mar 4, 2020 - Forecasts of the inevitable spread of coronavirus can be difficult to ignore, especially at a time when many of us are making travel plans for this spring’s big cancer meetings.

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H. Jack West, MD (Posted: March 05, 2020)

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This is clearly a question on everyone's mind right now, more pressing every day, as many institutions are announcing new policies discouraging if not strongly restricting non-essential travel, including to conferences. Moreover, it's inevitable that there will be dozens to hundreds of COVID-19 carriers at ASCO, given so many asymptomatic or ambiguously symptomatic people and cases no longer tethered to global travel. This means that these conferences will bring thousands to tens of thousands of oncologists and others from around the globe in close contact with COVID-19. It would be hard to envision a more perfect path to a pandemic, as these people will then bring COVID-19 home to expose their patients, colleagues, and families.

Though these large annual meetings are important for galvanizing the cancer community, for sharing information, and for providing great financial support for these professional societies, this is clearly a year in which there will be a great need for live streaming and/or other robust virtual meeting options, if it is feasible and not socially irresponsible to proceed with these live meetings at all, at least on their current time lines.

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