As the world has awakened to the urgent need to stem the COVID-19 virus and mount an aggressive and creative defense, those veterans of the tuberculosis (TB) fight have ideas and skills that should be deployed. In the spirit of cooperation and aligned interests, we offer here recent papers and resources that shed light on the implications of COVID-19 for TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Those on the front lines of fighting TB have gained insights and developed tools that will help those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic now. Both are lung diseases with similar symptoms, both require lab testing and contact tracing, and both rely on strong supply chains. Through many years of support by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other donors, the field of TB has built capacity in priority countries that can be marshalled to help those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The two wars may be waged together, because people with TB are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
World Health Organization (WHO): Country & Technical Guidance—Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). March 20, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance. This thorough guidance from WHO compiles information in 15 sectors of concern for detecting and treating COVID-19, plus information on media resources, donors and partners, travel, and advice for the public. Guidance topics are preparedness, laboratories, country coordination, rapid response, response by schools and workplaces, and operational support, among others.
WHO Information Note Tuberculosis and COVID-19: Considerations for tuberculosis (TB) care services. March 20, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/tb/COVID_19considerations_tuberculosis_services.pdf. This note warns that national TB programs and health personnel need urgently to continue essential services for people affected with TB during the COVID-19 pandemic. It suggests synergies across the services needed for both diseases and comments that those treating TB are in solidarity with those fighting COVID-19.
Message from the Executive Director of The Union: COVID-19: The Union remains committed to fulfilling its mission to provide health solutions to those most at-risk. The Union. March 19, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.theunion.org/who-we-are/the-directors-corner/message-from-the-executive-director-19032020. This message offers the resources of The Union, including membership network, conferences, webinars, and training programs to support ending COVID-19. To accelerate knowledge sharing, The Union is fast-tracking articles and publishing them—and a COVID-19 toolkit—on its website.
Forbes: COVID-19 Coronavirus and Tuberculosis: We Need a Damage Control Plan. March 17, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/madhukarpai/2020/03/17/covid-19-and-tuberculosis-we-need-a-damage-control-plan/#7d175eff295c. The article was written by a TB health worker concerned about how TB patients and their care will fare in the face of COVID-19. It relates how the coronavirus impacted TB care in China and Korea, cites response in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and suggests ways to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on TB services that help protect vulnerable populations.
USAID Responds to the COVID-19 Virus. March 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.usaid.gov/news-information/videos/usaid-responds-covid-19-virus. This 42-second video describes the USAID response to COVID-19 that provides personal protective equipment, support to laboratories worldwide, and $37 million in funding to 25 countries.
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