Report: COVID-19 causing radioisotope delays

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A drop in the volume of passenger airline travel is causing delays in the shipment of medical radioisotopes from sources in Canada, according to a January 3 report by Reuters.

The article notes that radiopharmaceuticals have long been shipped via commercial passenger aircraft. But the drop in airline traffic due to concerns over COVID-19 has created delays in shipping radiotracers from their sources in Canada, the article states.

The article quotes a spokesperson at McMaster Nuclear Reactor in Ontario as stating that prior to the pandemic, the facility could ship iodine-125 tracers that it produces "anywhere" in a couple of days. The radiopharmaceutical is commonly used in brachytherapy treatments.

Now, shipments are taking longer, as there are fewer passenger flights. The problem is exacerbated by Canada's requirement that passengers quarantine for 14 days on arriving in the country, which has affected air travel into the country, the article states.

On the other hand, the Reuters story said that U.S. cancer specialists and the American College of Radiology had "not heard of any widespread concerns over shipping isotopes."

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