A new report from a tuberculosis (TB) research and advocacy group suggests the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns could have a devastating impact on the global TB burden in the coming years. According to a modeling analysis commissioned by the Stop TB Partnership, a lockdown that disrupts TB diagnosis, treatment, and prevention services for 2 months, followed by the 2 months it would take to get normal TB services back up and running, could result in a rapidly growing pool of undetected and untreated TB patients. Over the next 5 years, that could produce an additional 1.8 million TB cases and 342,000 deaths globally. Under a worst-case scenario of a 3-month lockdown and 10-month restoration period, global cases would rise by 6.8 million, with 1.4 million excess deaths, the analysis found. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that 2018 saw an estimated 10 million TB cases and 1.5 million TB deaths. “The more severe the lockdown, the more severe the impact is going to be on the TB burden,” said Nimalan Arinaminpathy, PhD, a professor mathematical epidemiology at Imperial College London who worked on the modeling study, said in a media briefing.

 

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