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WHO report: Corona throws back the fight against tuberculosis by years

2021-10-14T15:39:36.750Z

Tuberculosis was the deadliest infectious disease after Covid-19 in 2020: around 1.5 million people died from it. India, China and Southeast Asia are particularly hard hit.



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The tuberculosis vaccine is being used in a South African laboratory

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Mike Hutchings / REUTERS

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus pandemic has set back the fight against tuberculosis by years. Of just under ten million people who are estimated to have contracted tuberculosis (TB) last year, only 5.8 million cases were diagnosed, the WHO reported in its tuberculosis report on Thursday. In the previous year it was 7.1 million. The decline is due, among other things, to lockdowns and exit restrictions as well as to the overloading of health services.

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease that is transmitted through droplets, such as the coughs of infected people.

It mainly affects the lungs.

The disease can also only break out years after infection.

In most cases, those infected carry the pathogen without feeling any symptoms.

The signs are cough, which can be bloody as the disease progresses, tiredness and fever.

People with a weakened immune system are particularly affected.

With antibiotic treatment lasting several months, tuberculosis, which was formerly also known as "consumption" because the sick are getting weaker and weaker, can be cured.

However, the pathogens develop more and more resistance to the agents.

Without treatment, almost half of those infected die.

Less expenditure on diagnosis, treatment and prevention

In 2020, after Covid-19, tuberculosis was the second leading cause of death from a single infectious agent.

A good 1.5 million people died of it, compared to 1.4 million in the previous year.

The trend of a decline in new infections, which has been created over the years, has almost been stopped.

The numbers for 2021 and 2022 are therefore likely to be even worse, according to the WHO.

The expenditures for diagnosis, treatment and prevention decreased in 2020 from 5.8 to 5.3 billion dollars (4.6 billion euros).

That is less than half as much as would be necessary according to WHO information.

more on the subject

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  • Global health: Corona pandemic weakens protection against HIV and AIDS

The WHO member countries decided six years ago to significantly contain the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030.

Compared to 2015, the number of new cases per 100,000 people should decrease by 80 percent and the number of deaths by 90 percent.

The intermediate targets for 2020 were clearly missed.

Until then, the incidence had only decreased by eleven percent instead of the targeted 20 percent.

In the case of deaths, the decrease was 9.2 instead of 35 percent.

The best results came from the WHO region of Europe, where the incidence fell by as much as 25 percent and the number of deaths fell by 26 percent, mainly due to advances in Russia.

A good quarter of all people infected with tuberculosis live in India, 8.5 percent in China and 8.4 percent in Indonesia, followed by the Philippines, Pakistan and Nigeria.

There is a vaccine against tuberculosis.

The so-called BCG vaccination is based on weakened mycobacteria that are injected under the skin.

The vaccination protection is not considered to be very reliable, but people in risk areas benefit from the vaccination.

In Germany, vaccination is no longer recommended due to the low incidence of tuberculosis and the relatively unpleasant side effects.

mar / dpa

Source: spiegel

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