Tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19 are infectious diseases that primarily attack the lungs. Both have similar symptoms such as:
- fever and,
- difficulty breathing.
TB, however, has a longer incubation period with a slower onset of disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
While experience on COVID-19 infection in TB patients remains limited, the WHO and other health experts anticipate that people with both TB and COVID-19 (co-infection) may have poorer treatment outcomes, especially if TB treatment is interrupted. The WHO urged TB to take precautions as advised by health authorities to be protected from COVID-19 and continue their TB treatment as prescribed.
A recent study looked at 747 patients from several countries in Europe and outside Europe who had COVID-19 and TB co-infection. It observed a high death rate (11%) among patients with COVID-19 and TB, which was associated with older age, male gender and invasive ventilation.
According to the researchers, their data suggest that TB and COVID-19 are a “cursed duet” and need immediate attention. They recommended that TB be considered a risk factor for severe COVID disease and patients with TB be prioritized for COVID-19 preventative efforts, including vaccination.
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References: https://www.who.int/teams/global-tuberculosis-programme/covid-19. Accessed 7 July 2022 https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/59/3/2102538. Accessed 7 July 2022