Today, ICAN is launching a report revealing that the healthcare systems in ten major cities around the world would be desperately overwhelmed by the immediate impact of the detonation of just one nuclear weapon.
The study models the detonation of one 100-kiloton airburst nuclear explosion over major cities in each of the nine nuclear-armed states and Germany, which hosts U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory. It then examines how many hospital beds, doctors, nurses and where information is available, ICU beds and burn care centres would be left to treat hundreds of thousands to over one million injured people.
The results are horrifying. Every remaining hospital bed and surviving doctor would suddenly have to accomodate dozens if not hundreds of badly injured patients, while coping with basic utility failures. People within 4km in every direction from the detonation point would suffer third-degree burns, but city burn beds in some cities number in the single digits. Medical infrastructure would be overwhelmed by many times more new patients in one city in one second than new COVID-19 patients in one day in the entire country at the peak of the pandemic.
And yet, in many ways, this is the best case scenario. The report only measures the impact of one, moderately-sized nuclear weapon within the first few hours of detonation. It does not measure the impact of some modern nuclear weapons which are many times more powerful, nor does it consider the radiation that would sicken and kill many more over time, the long-term environmental and climate damage or the escalating nuclear war that a nuclear strike over a nuclear-armed state city would almost certainly trigger.
Alicia Sanders-Zakre, ICAN Research and Policy Coordinator and author of the report says these findings show "that nuclear-armed states are risking a global health catastrophe of unimaginable proportions every day by clinging to their weapons of mass destruction. The only way to prevent this crisis is for these lingering pariah states to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and eliminate their nuclear arsenals.”
Header Photo: Public Health Image Library, CDC | Unsplash