Tuberculosis Elimination Loses to COVID-19 Pandemic
The Stop TB Partnership released new data on September 28, 2021, showing how the COVID-19 pandemic represents a barrier to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of ending tuberculosis (TB) by 2030.
An estimated 5.7 million people received treatment for TB in 2020, a drop of 21% from the previous year.
The data from 2021 shows that the impact of COVID-19 on the TB response has continued to be profound: 1.2 million fewer people have been diagnosed and treated for TB in 2021, with four months still left in the calendar year.
“Years of chronic neglect have led to an unbearable situation in which TB kills more than 4,000 people a day— more than HIV and malaria combined—and still, too few decision-makers, donors, and stakeholders care about TB,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, in a press release.
“Data from 2020 and 2021 will reveal soon how hundreds of thousands of additional people are dying from TB and how TB drug resistance and the TB epidemic itself are on the rise.”
“We always knew that ending TB by 2030 was going to be an uphill battle, but COVID-19 and the reduced funding for TB have sent us rolling further down the hill than anyone could have expected,” added Dr. Ditiu.
The U.S. CDC says the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine for TB disease is not widely used in the United States. The CDC says the BCG should be considered for only very select people who meet specific criteria and consult with a TB expert.
Additionally, BCG vaccination should only be considered for children who have a negative TB test and are continually exposed and cannot be separated from adults.
A 2019 observational study reported that the BCG vaccine is related to fewer deaths from certain infections other than TB in low-income countries.