COVID’s devastating impact on TB

Key takeaways:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress in providing essential TB services & reducing TB disease burden.

  • The most obvious impact is a large global drop in the number of people newly diagnosed with TB and reported (18% decline). Sixteen countries accounted for 93% of this reduction, with India, Indonesia and the Philippines the worst affected.

  • Reduced access to TB diagnosis & treatment has resulted in an increase in TB deaths. Best estimates for 2020 are 1.3 million TB deaths among HIV-negative people (up from 1.2 million in 2019) + an additional 214,000 among HIV-positive people (up from 209,000 in 2019) - impacts are forecast to be much worse in 2021 / 22.

  • Other impacts include a fall in global spending on TB diagnostic, treatment and prevention services (from US$ 5.8 billion to US$ 5.3 billion, less than half of what is needed).

  • Actions to mitigate and reverse these impacts are urgently required. The immediate priority is to restore access to and provision of essential TB services such that levels of TB case detection and treatment can recover to at least 2019 levels, especially in the most badly-affected countries.

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