Covid-19 study scoops scientific world record

A study led by the Universities of Edinburgh and Birmingham has been awarded the Guinness World Record title for the world’s largest scientific collaboration, involving over 140,000 patients in 116 countries.

People across globe

The record for ‘Most authors on a single peer-reviewed academic paper’ was broken after 15,025 scientists around the globe contributed to major research into the impact of Covid-19 on surgical patients.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the researchers concluded that patients waiting for elective surgery should be treated as a vulnerable group and access Covid-19 vaccines ahead of the general population – potentially helping to avoid thousands of post-operative deaths linked to the virus.

Overall, the scientists estimated that global prioritisation of pre-operative vaccination for elective patients could prevent an additional 58,687 COVID-19-related deaths in one year.

Phenomenal commitment

The COVIDSurg Collaborative international team of researchers published its findings in British Journal of Surgery after studying data from 1,667 hospitals in countries including Australia, Brazil, China, India, UAE, UK and USA.

This study reflects a phenomenal commitment of a worldwide team to come together to improve patient care everywhere. That this was achieved during a global pandemic makes it even more remarkable. We cannot forget that every number in these studies represents an individual receiving treatment in a hospital. The size of this effort should not distract from its clear aim – to make surgery safer no matter where in the world you live.

Ewen HarrisonProfessor of Surgery and Data Science, the University of Edinburgh

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, five billion people lacked access to surgical care and 143 million more operations per year were required globally. There was already a major global inequity in access to safe and affordable surgery across low and middle-income countries, with an urgent need to expand capacity.  The pandemic has acutely worsened that situation.

Record breaking

Launched in March 2020, the COVIDSurg Collaborative has provided data needed to support changes to surgical delivery in the fastest time frame ever seen by a surgical research group. Research from this huge study group has also explored the timing of surgery after Covid infection, preoperative isolation, and risks of blood clots.

Being awarded the Guinness World Records title for the world’s largest scientific collaboration highlights the scale of our global partnership, which aims to contribute to our understanding of Covid-19 and help to save as many lives as possible around the world. It marks the commitment and hard work of thousands of medical colleagues around the world to understand the changes that are needed in how surgery must be delivered if we are to beat the virus and reduce its impact on surgical patients.

Mr Aneel BhanguStudy co-lead author and surgeon, the University of Birmingham

Related links


Usher Institute

Guinness World Records