Two years of battling COVID-19 has been bad news for tuberculosis (TB) programmes. Respiratory clinicians and researchers have had their time and focus directed elsewhere. And TB has taken advantage. In 2021, the number of TB deaths rose for the first time in over a decade.
The barriers caused by lockdowns and overstretched healthcare systems have had a negative impact on TB diagnosis and treatment. The World Health Organisation found that 21% fewer people received care for TB in 2020 compared to 2019. Prevention, referral, and treatment programmes have all been heavily affected. To make matters worse, potential increases in poverty, undernutrition, and long-term lung damage due to COVID-19 are all likely to make many more people vulnerable to TB disease, which also causes significant long-term lung issues……more