A full year has now passed since the first implementation of the COVID-19 lockdown protocols. The initial wave of the global pandemic resulted in most elective general surgery procedures being delayed or even cancelled, thereby negatively impacting a wide range of medical device sales and driving down their market values in 2020. In the US, despite the overall negative impact of the lockdown, a select number of device markets fared better than others. For example, while sales of assisted reproductive technology (ART) devices decreased in H1 2020, bronchoscopes experienced a rare spike in market value. As such, markets are expected to fully recover at varying rates in 2021.

The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted a general surgery device market was closely tied to the degree of its elective nature of the associated procedures. Devices used in completely elective procedures like in vitro fertilization experienced a negative month-over-month (MoM) impact, at a decrease of more than 76% in the worst-hit month of April, while devices for more urgent yet still elective procedures like surgical staplers saw a modest 41% MoM decline during the same timeframe. In contrast, some device markets rapidly grew due to the pandemic. For example, bronchoscopes experienced a positive MoM impact as they were extensively used for visualizing and examining the upper airway tracts of COVID-19 patients. The bronchoscopes market experienced 93% growth in Q3 2020, but its market value and growth are set to return to pre-pandemic levels during H1 2021.

While many general surgery device markets returned to pre-pandemic sales volumes and growth rates during H2 2020, the exacerbated backlog of elective procedures due to the pandemic has continued to fuel demand well into 2021. Furthermore, despite the ongoing global rollout of vaccines, a new wave of the pandemic is imminent across many Western countries, threatening the medical device markets with amplified volatility yet again. Thus, GlobalData expects that procedure volumes and their accompanying device usage will continue to rise in 2021 unless a larger, more devastating wave of the pandemic arrives.