As India continues to battle the COVID pandemic, Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the country's and the world's top infectious killers. TB control programmes have gone off-track as countries poured their might to fight COVID.
WHO data from 84 countries shows that 21 percent fewer people received Tuberculosis treatment in 2020 compared to 2019. This meant an estimated 14 lakh people were left to fight TB on their own without any treatment.
A national TB control programme in India registered a 25 percent fall in the detection of new patients during the first half of 2021 when compared with the corresponding period in 2019.
WHO estimates that these COVID-19 related disruptions in access to TB care could cause an additional half a million deaths, losing progress of a decade.
This setback in the fight against TB is not the only one. Availability of key drugs in countries like India and research for lesser toxic drug treatments for extreme drug resistant TB remains a concern.
India accounts for more than 1 in 4 of all cases of active TB diseases, including nearly 1,20,000 cases of drug-resistant forms of TB. However, results of a new trial offers a ray of hope. The phase 3 clinical trial shows how TB Alliance's new six-month, three-drug treatment -- BPaL regimen -- that combines Bedaquiline, Pretomanid and Linozolide, for highly drug- resistant TB can be administered with reducing the dosing of the highly toxic drug Linezolid. This regimen reduces the treatment time for highly drug-resistant forms of TB from 18 months or longer to a six month duration.
TB Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to finding faster acting and affordable drug regimens to fight TB.
To discuss the battle against TB and how India can mitigate the setback dealt by COVID, Archana Shukla spoke to Mel Spigelman, President & CEO of TB Alliance, and Sandeep Juneja, Senior VP- Market Access at TB Alliance.
Watch video for more.
(Edited by : Bivekananda Biswas)