A new study suggests that at least 110,000 deaths from TB may occur in endemic regions including China, India, and South Africa due to disruption to healthcare services caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the pandemic, there were more than 4,000 TB deaths recorded daily. In countries where health services have been severely strained by the high demand for COVID-19 treatment, there are fears that the case burden and hospitalizations from TB may increase.
Although the researchers opine that the coronavirus social distancing measures may reduce transmission of TB, there may still be more deaths compared to the pre-pandemic period as a result of strained healthcare services, delayed diagnosis and treatment, and reduced TB clinic attendance. The researchers say in the worst-case scenario, the death toll may rise by more than 200,000.
The researchers say that this potential spike is likely to happen in low- and middle-income countries where healthcare services have been significantly affected.