How COVID-19 is Affecting the Global Response to AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on the most vulnerable communities worldwide and threatens progress on HIV, TB, malaria, vaccination and other areas of health.

Below, you can find regularly updated information on the impact of COVID-19 on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and news items from around the world on important developments.

1. How the Global Fund is Responding to COVID-19
2. Featured Articles
3. Latest News
4. Further Reading

Want updates in your inbox? Sign up here:


August 15, 2022: BCG Vaccine For Tuberculosis Offers COVID-19 Protection, Study Suggests (Wall Street Journal)

“A widely used tuberculosis vaccine protected people with Type 1 diabetes from COVID-19, according to a Massachusetts General Hospital study published Monday that further illustrates the potential immune-enhancing powers of the shot, called BCG. The vaccine, a weakened version of the tuberculosis bacterium that infects cows, is given more than 100 million times a year around the globe to infants, but it isn’t part of the standard vaccination program in the U.S. Doctors have long suspected it has additional effects beyond tuberculosis prevention.” READ MORE

August 2, 2022: Despite Setbacks, HIV Can Be Beaten (The Economist)

“It is a tribute to human ingenuity and determination that aids no longer makes headlines. That is because HIV, the virus which causes it, is on the run. According to the latest update by UNAIDS, the UN programm that keeps tabs on such matters, deaths from aids-related illnesses have been falling since 2004 and new infections since 1996. Indeed, the fact that the number of people living with the virus (currently about 38m) continues to rise is actually good news. It means they are being kept alive by antiretroviral drug therapy (art), rather than dropping out of the statistics by dying. But hiv still kills in numbers that would never be off the front pages if a war, rather than virus, were the cause. So far, it has ended the lives of some 40m people, with 650,000 of those deaths having happened in 2021.” READ MORE

July 29, 2022: PEPFAR Shows Impact With 5.5 Million Babies Born HIV-Free Due To Comprehensive Program Efforts (PEPFAR)

“The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is undeniably the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease and the return on that investment continues to produce impressive results. Today, at the 24th International AIDS Conference, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy Ambassador-at-Large Dr. John Nkengasong, announced that through the reduction of incidence and prevalence of HIV among adolescent girls and young women, women of childbearing age, and adult men, an additional 3.5 million babies were born HIV free from 2004 to 2021. Now, a total of 5.5 million babies have been born HIV-free as a result of PEPFAR and its partners… ‘In total, 5.5 million babies have been born HIV-free because of our comprehensive prevention program and this is an incredible milestone for our program and for the next generation,’ said Nkengasong.” READ MORE

June 24, 2022: Climate, Malaria Highlighted As Commonwealth Leaders Meet (ABC)

“Leaders of Commonwealth nations were meeting in Rwanda’s capital Friday to tackle climate change, tropical diseases and other challenges deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit for Commonwealth heads of state in Kigali is the culmination of a series of meetings this week that officials said yielded some success in efforts to improve the lives of people in the 54-nation association that is home to 2.5 billion people… More than $4 billion was pledged Thursday toward global efforts to accelerate the fight against malaria and other neglected tropical diseases. The money will come from governments, philanthropists and others in the private sector. In addition, pharmaceutical companies donated 18 billion tablets to prevent and treat those diseases.” READ MORE

June 6, 2022: How (RED) Is Saving Lives Fighting AIDS & COVID-19 (Forbes)

“Two decades ago, if you lived in London and received an HIV diagnosis, you were sent home with a prescription. But if you lived in Lusaka, you were sent home to die because treatments were unavailable. Life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) now costs as little as 20 cents a day, a sharp decline from when medication cost roughly $27 a day in the early 2000’s. Over 28 million people now have access to ARVs, more than triple the number on treatment in 2010. One of the reasons for this shift was the creation of an organization called the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, one of the largest and most effective global health partnerships on the planet. Launched in 2002, the Global Fund was created as a private-public partnership to fund the end of these three diseases, yet the private sector was lagging behind. In 2006, (RED) was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to drive corporate investments into the Global Fund by turning companies and their consumers into a cavalry to fight the AIDS pandemic.” READ MORE

5/10/22 As Poor Nations Seek Covid Pills, Officials Fear Repeat of AIDS Crisis (New York Times)

“Rich nations, including the United States, have gobbled up much of the supply. Global health agencies do not have the money to buy the antivirals or tests, which are crucial because the medication needs to be started early in the course of infection. Drug companies, trying to protect their patents, are limiting the supply of generic alternatives in many middle-income countries, including an entire swath of Latin America. All of this is playing out against the infectious disease equivalent of a ticking time bomb. ‘We all expect a major new surge from Omicron or a new variant in the global south from June to September, and if that happens, we are not going to be ready with test and treat,’ said Dr. Bill Rodriguez, who runs the testing arm of the ACT Accelerator, the Geneva-based consortium coordinating the global response. ‘It feels extremely similar — painfully, ironically, tragically similar — to what happened with H.I.V.’” READ MORE

4/25/22: Global Fund Urges the World to Boost the Fight Against Malaria as COVID-19 Disruptions, Drug and Insecticide Resistance and New Threats Endanger Progress (The Global Fund)

“Ahead of World Malaria Day, 25 April, the Global Fund calls for renewed commitment in the fight against malaria, a disease that now kills one child every minute. After years of steady declines, malaria cases and deaths are on the rise mainly due to stalled funding and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide. This represents about 14 million more cases in 2020 compared to 2019, and 69,000 more deaths. Approximately two-thirds of these additional deaths were linked to COVID-19 disruptions. In addition, climate change-related fluctuations in rainfall, temperature and humidity may shift malaria transmission to areas that may not be adequately resourced or prepared to prevent, detect, and treat the disease. Invasive malaria-carrying mosquito species are spreading to new countries via freight traffic.” READ MORE

4/11/22: The Unbelievable Stupidity of Ending Global COVID-19 Aid (The New York Times)

“Even for a body as broken and ineffectual as Congress, this level of self-sabotage is hard to fathom. ‘The biggest risk we face domestically and globally is more new variants,’ said Konyndyk. Such variants, he said, are most likely to emerge in chronically immunocompromised populations, including people living with diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis; because they have trouble clearing the coronavirus, it lingers and has more opportunities to evolve. ‘That’s likely where Omicron came from, quite possibly where Delta came from,’ Konyndyk said. ‘So making sure that we are targeting those populations for vaccination and then targeting them with the rollout of antivirals is the best insurance policy we have against new variants. It’s not foolproof, but it’s the best we can do.’” READ MORE

4/6/22: Opinion: A Test of America’s Commitment to the World (Devex)

“A fever-testing infrastructure that could be used for COVID-19 already exists in many countries — and it can be converted to test for diseases such as COVID-19 at a fraction of what it would take to build such a robust system from scratch. I’m referring to the front-line malaria testing capacity that the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have helped countries to construct over the past 20 years. As one of humanity’s oldest and deadliest diseases, malaria is currently a daily endemic threat for almost half the world. It turns out that COVID-19 typically shares seven of 10 primary symptoms with malaria, most notably fever. That makes malaria testing platforms especially powerful, not just in detecting COVID-19, but also for potential future pandemics, which are likely to present symptoms such as fever.” READ MORE

Latest News

August 16, 2022: Funding The Future Of The HIV Response (The Lancet HIV)

“Substantial progress in the fight against HIV has been made over the past decade. Advances in HIV prevention, testing, and treatment have been matched by declines in HIV incidence and HIV-related deaths. The success of Botswana reaching the 95-95-95 targets, despite resource limitations, points to a hopeful future. However, the recent publication of In Danger: UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2022, the UNAIDS annual report, paints a sobering picture of the fragility of these gains. Stagnating financing for the HIV response, alongside continued global inequities, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, jeopardizes progress. Current projections indicate that neither the UNAIDS 2025 95-95-95 targets nor the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 will be met… Alongside funding shortfalls, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the HIV response. Huge resilience has been seen in the response, with services quickly adapting to reduced social contact and expanding provision of options, such as multimonth prescribing. However, services have been impacted. Although an additional 1·47 million people started taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally in 2021, as reported by UNAIDS, this figure was far lower than the 2 million increases seen in previous years.” READ MORE

August 13, 2022: It’s Important to Prioritize HIV Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic (AJMC)

“Approximately 37.9 million people living with HIV are at risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the COVID-19 pandemic created setbacks for individual and public health HIV treatment goals. These delays in care had many adverse effects. People were told to stay home, and many appointments and procedures were canceled. Further, those who may have received their diagnosis in the hospital could not follow up for care and receive treatment, and access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) was restricted during the pandemic, which led to decreased adherence. This, in turn, affected the HIV care continuum. A 2022 respective cohort study reported that overall HIV testing between 2019 and 2020 dropped 35.4%. Notably, populations with the highest risk for transmission had an overall decrease in testing of up to 58.7%. Routine HIV appointments have also been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people with HIV being lost to follow-up.” READ MORE

August 15, 2022: BCG Vaccine For Tuberculosis Offers COVID-19 Protection, Study Suggests (Wall Street Journal)

“A widely used tuberculosis vaccine protected people with Type 1 diabetes from COVID-19, according to a Massachusetts General Hospital study published Monday that further illustrates the potential immune-enhancing powers of the shot, called BCG. The vaccine, a weakened version of the tuberculosis bacterium that infects cows, is given more than 100 million times a year around the globe to infants, but it isn’t part of the standard vaccination program in the U.S. Doctors have long suspected it has additional effects beyond tuberculosis prevention.” READ MORE

August 16, 2022: An HIV Vaccine May Be Closer Than Ever—Thanks, In Part, To Covid-19 (Forbes)

“Despite nearly forty years of research, there’s still no vaccine to combat HIV/AIDS. However, recent discussions at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal provided some hope that that situation might change. Roughly a year after the world first became aware of Covid-19, two vaccines that effectively reduce the risk of this disease were approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. Lessons learned during the development of those vaccines may spur efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV/AIDS… The search for an effective HIV vaccine has been a slow, arduous process. But the 40-year struggle has benefited the vaccine field in many ways. We understand the human immune system better because of the work done on HIV. Arguably, the Covid-19 vaccines were developed so rapidly in part because of lessons learned from HIV. Now, perhaps, lessons learned from Covid-19 will impact the development of an HIV vaccine.” READ MORE

August 16, 2022: Gates Eyes Partnership With South Korea Over Global Health (AP News)

“Representing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea’s foreign and health ministries pledging further partnerships in projects aimed at improving public health tools in the developing world and advancing vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases. Seoul also promised stronger support for key projects backed by the Gates foundation, including the Global Fund, which focuses on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and the non-profit groups CEPI and GAVI, which along with the World Health Organization co-lead the COVAX distribution program that distributes COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income nations.” READ MORE

August 10, 2022: The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex With Men: (Dis)connection To Social, Sexual, And Health Networks (Psychology and Sexuality)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected HIV-positive cisgender men who have sex with men (MSM). Between May and June in 2020, we conducted one-on-one semi-structured qualitative interviews with 20 HIV-positive MSM aiming to describe their (dis)connection to social, sexual, and health networks during the COVID-19 pandemic. All participants relied on social support networks to manage pandemic-based distress, using computer-mediated communication as well as physical proximity… Nonetheless, stay-at-home recommendations reduced community connection, sexual activity, and healthcare access for many participants, and perceptions of these losses were shaped by psychosocial burdens (e.g., loneliness), structural burdens (e.g., environmental barriers, financial difficulties), and health-protective factors (e.g., hopeful outlook, adherence to a regular routine). The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have exacerbated health-related issues for HIV-positive MSM. Given the ongoing COVID-19 mutations, community-based organizations, clinicians, and researchers might use these findings to modify HIV prevention and intervention efforts.” READ MORE

August 5, 2022: COVID-19 Outcomes And Risk Factors Among People Living With HIV (Springer)

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the first global pandemic to overlap with the last great pandemic of our era, HIV. Closures for in-person care of medical clinics as part of shelter-in-place ordinances, stock-outs of antiretroviral therapy, and the profound public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have challenged systems of care for people living with HIV (PLWH). Adding to fears about setbacks in global HIV epidemic control were concerns about the susceptibility of PLWH to COVID-19 infection and severe COVID-19 infection, given susceptibility to other pulmonary infections such as pneumococcus even among people with well-controlled HIV. Understanding whether susceptibility to COVID-19 infection or propensity to develop severe disease is increased among PLWH were crucial questions for both these individuals and their providers.” READ MORE

August 3, 2022: HIV And COVID-19: The Interplay Of Two Wicked Problems (BMJ Global Health)

“The HIV and COVID-19 pandemics are intersecting at multiple levels. Both pandemics have previously been described as wicked problems and can be studied as complex adaptive systems. We recently designed a qualitative model of all known factors influencing HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) in sub-Saharan Africa and analysed its complexity as a complex adaptive system. Our detailed systems map featured three main feedback loops driving HIVDR. Visualising both pandemics in one systems map confirms the urgency to address both simultaneously in order to mitigate a prolongation of the current COVID-19 pandemic and a rise in drug-resistant HIV. Also at local level, a visualisation of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and response measures on the HIVDR system is valuable in gaining an understanding of its system-wide impact when rapid public health action is needed.” READ MORE

August 3, 2022: Tuberculosis In Poland: Epidemiological And Molecular Analysis During The COVID-19 Pandemic (The Economist)

“The COVID-19 pandemic may have a negative impact on the proper implementation of TB control programmes and may increase TB incidence rates in the near future. The aim of this study was to perform an epidemiological and molecular analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains cultured from tuberculosis patients in Poland in 2020 and to compare the results of monitoring drug-resistant tuberculosis in Poland with previous studies in 2012 and 2016. The analysis was based on questionnaires and strains sent by regional laboratories during the 12 months of 2020. Molecular analysis was performed by spoligotyping 20% of the strains sensitive to the four primary antimycobacterial drugs and all of the drug-resistant strains. The number of strains sent for analysis dropped threefold, from 4136 in 2012 to 1383 in 2020. READ MORE

August 2, 2022: Despite Setbacks, HIV Can Be Beaten (The Economist)

“It is a tribute to human ingenuity and determination that aids no longer makes headlines. That is because hiv, the virus which causes it, is on the run. According to the latest update by unaids, the un programme that keeps tabs on such matters, deaths from aids-related illnesses have been falling since 2004 and new infections since 1996. Indeed, the fact that the number of people living with the virus (currently about 38m) continues to rise is actually good news. It means they are being kept alive by antiretroviral drug therapy (art), rather than dropping out of the statistics by dying. But hiv still kills in numbers that would never be off the front pages if a war, rather than virus, were the cause. So far, it has ended the lives of some 40m people, with 650,000 of those deaths having happened in 2021.” READ MORE

July 29, 2022: Global Crises Threaten Progress Curbing HIV/AIDS, UN Warns (World Economic Forum)

“Compounding crises in recent years have slowed the global fight against HIV, threatening the health of millions and potentially derailing international goals aimed at eradicating the virus. In a report released this week, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) announced that the number of new HIV infections worldwide between 2020 and 2021 fell by just 3.6%—the smallest decline since 2016. Specifically, the agency found that roughly 1.5 million people were newly infected with HIV last year. The figure represents over 1 million more than health authorities had targeted for 2021… In particular, COVID-19 has shifted public health resources away from HIV care and prevention. Governments have also cut domestic funding to HIV programmes due to the economic fallout from the pandemic. In fact, in 2021, global resources dedicated to HIV care were 6% less than in 2010, according to UNAIDS.” READ MORE

July 29, 2022: PEPFAR Shows Impact With 5.5 Million Babies Born HIV-Free Due To Comprehensive Program Efforts (PEPFAR)

“The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is undeniably the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease and the return on that investment continues to produce impressive results. Today, at the 24th International AIDS Conference, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy Ambassador-at-Large Dr. John Nkengasong, announced that through the reduction of incidence and prevalence of HIV among adolescent girls and young women, women of childbearing age, and adult men, an additional 3.5 million babies were born HIV free from 2004 to 2021. Now, a total of 5.5 million babies have been born HIV-free as a result of PEPFAR and its partners… ‘In total, 5.5 million babies have been born HIV-free because of our comprehensive prevention program and this is an incredible milestone for our program and for the next generation,’ said Nkengasong.” READ MORE

July 26, 2022: Why Canada needs to step up Global Fund support this year (Devex – Canada)

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a proven mechanism working to end these diseases and the preventable suffering they cause. The international partnership supports a people-centered, localized approach to care that has saved an estimated 44 million lives since its creation in 2002… Due to the massive disruptions that COVID-19 caused, deaths from TB and malaria have increased for the first time in years and much progress on HIV has stalled. That’s why the Global Fund’s seventh replenishment this year is critical. Its investment case calls on the world to mobilize $18 billion to save a projected 20 million lives over the next three-year funding period. Due to increased need amid the pandemic, this is about 30% higher than the $14 billion raised at the Global Fund’s sixth replenishment in October 2019… The Global Fund is specifically looking to the leading industrial nations in the Group of Seven, including Canada, to increase their pledges by 30% from the sixth replenishment. So far, the U.S. is the only G-7 country to announce its intention to commit its fair share, totaling $6 billion.” READ MORE

July 25, 2022: How The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Healthcare Around The World (GAVI)

“The arrival of COVID-19 disrupted healthcare in various ways. Less urgent services were cancelled or postponed, while barriers imposed by curfews, transport closures and stay-at-home orders prevented some patients from attending appointments. Others avoided health centres and hospitals for fear of becoming infected themselves… Cancer and TB screening/detection and HIV testing were the most affected services, experiencing a 26 to 96% decline, depending on the country. Breast cancer screening was particularly affected… The health systems most affected included those in Chile, Haiti, Mexico, Nepal and South Africa. However, Ethiopia and South Korea – the poorest and richest countries – were among the least affected by disruptions.” READ MORE

July 22, 2022: Safeguarding Equitable HIV Service Delivery At The Health Facility-Level In A Resource-Limited Setting During The Pandemic (BMC Tropical Medicine and Health – Philippines)

“The COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on delivering essential health services, including HIV service delivery. Among the challenges encountered and addressed by the HIV and AIDS Department of the San Lazaro Hospital were ensuring continued access to antiretroviral therapy and ensuring continuity of client education and empowerment. Two years into the pandemic, challenges still ensue, such as protecting health care providers from COVID-19 and regular clinical monitoring of clients. This highlights the importance of urgent action to strengthen the resilience of health systems at all its levels, not only to respond to sudden disturbances, but also to transform and evolve to be able to better face future pandemics.” READ MORE

July 22, 2022: Impact Of COVID-19 On Tuberculosis Detection And Treatment In Baja California, México (Frontiers in Public Health – Mexico) “In 2020, Mexico reported the lowest tuberculosis (TB) incidence on record, and it is unclear to what extent COVID-19 has impacted TB surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment. It is important to understand COVID-19’s impact in Baja California (BC), which has the highest TB burden in Mexico. With the increasing number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in BC, limited resources and crowded living conditions increase the risk of TB transmission. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on TB diagnosis and treatment in BC. We were also interested in health disparities experienced by migrants in BC… Qualitative analysis revealed that TB diagnostic and treatment supplies and services became limited and disproportionately accessible across jurisdictions since the pandemic began; however, favorable adaptations were also reported, such as increased telemedicine use and streamlined care referral processes.” READ MORE

July 15, 2022: Pediatric HIV Case Identification Across 22 PEPFAR-Supported Countries During The COVID-19 Pandemic, October 2019–September 2020 (CDC)

“Findings from this report suggest progress toward reaching the UNAIDS 95–95–95 targets for CLHIV were negatively affected during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during April–June 2020. Although the number of HIV tests conducted and cases identified increased from Q3 to Q4, the overall number of children diagnosed with HIV during Q4 remained below pre–COVID-19 levels. Although more resource intensive, index testing remains a priority for identifying children before they develop advanced disease, and during the COVID-19 pandemic when children and caregivers are less likely to seek outpatient services. Prioritizing the identification and testing of the biological children of key populations (i.e., persons who engage in sex work, men who have sex with men, persons who inject drugs, persons who identify as transgender, and persons who are incarcerated in prisons and other closed settings) living with HIV is also critical given their increased risk and vulnerabilities.” READ MORE

July 14, 2022: Recent Updates In Diagnosis And Management Of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis In India: A Paradigm Shift And The Way Ahead During The COVID-19 Crisis (Indian Journal of Tuberculosis – India)

“India has the highest burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the world, having an estimated incidence of 2.7 million cases in 2019.1 This crisis evokes a deeper concern considering the increasing proportion of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) cases. India had an estimated 130,000 DR-TB cases in 2018, while the estimated percentages of new cases and previously treated cases with multidrug-resistant (MDR) or rifampicin-resistant (RR) TB in 2017 were 2.8% and 12% respectively… The latest guidelines on management of DR-TB have been released on 24th March 2021, the World TB Day. The new document incorporates emerging diagnostic and therapeutic trends, while focussing on the elimination of TB under the National TB elimination program (NTEP).1 In order to achieve the sustainable development targets by 2025 (i.e., five years before 2030, the global target year), the national strategic plan (NSP) 2017-25 emphasizes on the ‘prevent-detect-treat-build’ strategy.” READ MORE

July 13, 2022: Sharp Pandemic-Related Decline in HIV Care Utilization Found in India (AJMC – India)

“A significant decline in HIV-related service utilization was observed among at-risk populations in India during the COVID-19 pandemic, with patients citing barriers to testing and lack of access to HIV providers. Results were published this week in the Journal of the International AIDS Society. With more than 550 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, concerns have been raised regarding the impact of the pandemic and its associated lockdowns on access to preventive and treatment services for infectious diseases. Specific to the HIV epidemic, researchers cautioned that impacts are likely most profound among key populations in resource-limited settings. “Key populations, such as people who inject drugs (PWID) and men who have sex with men (MSM), are particularly vulnerable given underlying individual and structural barriers to engaging in HIV treatment and preventive services,” they said. In India, which has experienced the second highest number of COVID-19 cases worldwide after the United States, MSM and PWID populations were noted by researchers to face economic and social barriers that could have been exacerbated by the pandemic.” READ MORE

July 11, 2022: Health Matters: Govt Wants To Eliminate TB But Data Not In Sync With Promise. Blame It On COVID-19 (News 18 – India)

“According to the Global TB Report of 2021, India is among the 10 countries that collectively account for 74% of the global gap between estimated TB incidence and the number of people newly diagnosed with TB and reported. The top contributor was India at 24%. India also features on all three World Health Organization (WHO) global lists of high-burden countries for TB, HIV-associated TB, and Multi-Drug Resistant or Rifampicin-resistant TB to be used by the WHO for the period 2021-2025. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, India was well on its path of closing the gap between the number of tuberculosis cases estimated and those detected, and it could soon find all its “missing million” TB patients… “COVID-19 has harmed our progress in TB a lot. So many late diagnoses and missed notifications have been found. A lot of work is pending and several resources have been diverted after discussions with the health minister,” a government source said, adding the health minister has issued strict instructions to “do whatever it takes” to achieve the target set by PM Modi.” READ MORE

July 7, 2022: Effect of Concomitant Tuberculosis Infection on COVID-19 Disease in Children: A Matched, Retrospective Cohort Study (Oxford Academic – India)

“Globally, 2020–21 witnessed multiple waves of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that had a devastating impact on lives, health and economic infrastructures across the world. In this unprecedented scenario, tuberculosis (TB) patients, who often have underlying comorbidities and lung damage, were particularly vulnerable to more severe COVID-19. There have been many studies from the adult world, enumerating the detrimental association of COVID-19 and TB infection. These studies have revealed that COVID-19 patients with TB had a 2-fold increased risk of death, and were less likely to recover. Moreover, time-to-death was shorter and time-to-recovery longer as compared to patients without TB… The similarity in clinical picture between TB, childhood pneumonia and COVID-19, with all respiratory etiologies, manifesting as fever, cough and breathlessness, often makes them harder to differentiate. Given the potential health system ramifications of this disease association, possibility of a third pediatric predominant wave, there exists an urgent need to identify vulnerable populations.” READ MORE

July 6, 2022: Plan Calls For More Funding To Bring TB Under Control (UMN Center For Infectious Disease Research And Policy)

“The Global Plan to End TB 2023-2030, released today by the Stop TB Partnership, calls for a global investment of $250 billion from 2023 to 2030 to boost early TB diagnosis and treatment, develop and distribute a new TB vaccine, and accelerate the development of new TB medicines and diagnostics. It also aims to put TB prevention at the center of pandemic preparedness and response efforts, so that future pandemics don’t derail TB programs—as has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Stop TB Partnership says that fully meeting that funding goal could mean that 95% of people with TB will receive a diagnosis, 50 million people will have access to appropriate treatment, and 35 million people will receive preventive treatment. The group’s modeling estimates project that hitting those targets could lead to a 90% decline in the annual number of TB deaths by 2030 compared with 2015.” READ MORE

July 5, 2022: Trends In Transactional Sex Among Women At Risk For HIV In Rural Kenya During The First Year Of The COVID-19 Pandemic (JAMA Open Network – Kenya)

“Transactional sex, or the exchange of sex for material support, is an important factor associated with the high risk of HIV acquisition among young women in sub-Saharan Africa.1 Because poverty is associated with women’s engagement in transactional sex, the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic may be associated with increased HIV incidence. Several studies2-4 reported worsening economic conditions in low-income and middle-income countries during the initial months of the pandemic. Few studies have examined longer-term trends in economic outcomes or behaviors associated with HIV transmission… In this cohort study, among Kenyan women with high risk of HIV exposure, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a persistent decline in income and employment. Although the incidence of transactional sex decreased during the pandemic’s early phase, by the end of 2020 it approached prepandemic levels. Heightened poverty may be one reason for the resurgence in transactional sex, which is likely associated with increased risk of HIV acquisition.6 Study limitations include the lack of assessments after the first year of the pandemic. Intersecting vulnerabilities to poverty, HIV, and COVID-19 should be considered by pandemic policies in low-income settings.” READ MORE

June 24, 2022: Climate, Malaria Highlighted As Commonwealth Leaders Meet (ABC)

“Leaders of Commonwealth nations were meeting in Rwanda’s capital Friday to tackle climate change, tropical diseases and other challenges deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit for Commonwealth heads of state in Kigali is the culmination of a series of meetings this week that officials said yielded some success in efforts to improve the lives of people in the 54-nation association that is home to 2.5 billion people… More than $4 billion was pledged Thursday toward global efforts to accelerate the fight against malaria and other neglected tropical diseases. The money will come from governments, philanthropists and others in the private sector. In addition, pharmaceutical companies donated 18 billion tablets to prevent and treat those diseases.” READ MORE

June 23, 2022: Impact Of COVID-19 On Tuberculosis Services: An Experience From A Tertiary Care Hospital (Journal of Medical Microbiology – India)

“India is home to the most significant number of tuberculosis (TB) cases around the globe. The COVID-19 crisis has massively affected TB healthcare services in the country… Following a large increase in the global number of TB case notifications per year between 2017 and 2019, the reported data show a substantial fall of 18 % between 2019 and 2020, from 7.1 million to 5.8 million. Also, a 62 % reduction in TB case notifications and a 70 % decline in childhood TB notifications during the nationwide lock down period led to an increased vulnerability to TB. Maharashtra was the worst-hit state during COVID-19. In particular, Mumbai, a city known for its massive population density, largest slum area, and a long list of foreign returnees, faced many difficulties in the management of TB patients and their access to healthcare during the lock down situations. With this study, we aim to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on tuberculosis services and patient care at a tertiary care hospital in Mumbai.” READ MORE

June 29, 2022: Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On The Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Brazil: Is The WHO End TB Strategy At Risk? (Frontiers – Brazil)

“In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the “post-2015 End TB strategy”, that aims to end the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic by 2030. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted global public health and the strict measures to control the coronavirus spread can affect the management of other diseases, such as TB. Herein, we aimed to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the diagnosis of TB in Brazil, during 2020… Taken together, our analyses demonstrated a reduction in TB diagnosis after the irruption of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil and its regions, signaling a serious impact on the WHO “End TB Strategy” global plan.” READ MORE

June 23, 2022: Treat Tuberculosis Like COVID19, Says Health Official (Meghalaya Monitor – India)

“Mission Director, National Health Mission Ram Kumar S, said there is a need to treat tuberculosis like the state addressed COVID-19. Addressing an advocacy meet for the media persons on Thursday, Kumar said as there were over 1500 deaths due to COVID-19 for the last two years, the number of deaths due to tuberculosis was 400 during the same period and hence there is an urgent need to address the disease. Kumar, who himself was a TB patient, said that attention was given to COVID-19 since it affected all sections of the society whereas people affected by TB.are the poor. He, however, said the way the state focused  to treat Covid, the same approach should be adopted to deal with TB. State TB officer Dr. M Mawrie said as the state’s attention was more on COVID-19, there was lack of focus to treat the tuberculosis patients.” READ MORE

June 22, 2022: Willingness to accept COVID-19 vaccination among people living with HIV in a high HIV prevalence community (BMC Public Health)

“People living with HIV (PLWH) may have a poorer prognosis with COVID-19 infection and are an important population for COVID-19 vaccination. We assessed the willingness and reasons for COVID-19 vaccine acceptance or hesitancy among PLWH in South Africa… In this cohort of PLWH in South Africa, over half were willing to accept COVID-19 vaccination, although a substantial proportion remained unsure or were not willing to be vaccinated. Public health messaging should emphasize the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination and address misinformation and medical mistrust among PLWH. Ongoing efforts to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for vulnerable populations are crucial.” READ MORE

June 22, 2022: How PEPFAR countries sustained HIV programmes in 2020 amidst COVID-19 (AIDS Map)

“An assessment by the US Presidential Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to determine the impact of COVID-19 mitigation strategies in 41 PEPFAR supported countries reported overall gains of 5% in the number of people on HIV treatment and a 2% increase in the number with viral load suppression in the first year of COVID-19 pandemic, despite challenges in delivery of services for HIV prevention and treatment the world over.  There was less progress on HIV testing with an overall 19% decline in new HIV-positive diagnoses… PEPFAR supports HIV national programmes in low and middle-income countries by funding interventions that offer HIV prevention, testing and treatment services for people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV. PEPFAR programmes focus on getting people living with HIV on treatment and supporting them to remain in care.” READ MORE

June 20, 2022: Implementation And Challenges To Preventing The Re-Establishment Of Malaria In China In The COVID-19 Era (BMC – China)

“The rapid emergence and global spread of COVID-19 have caused substantial global disruptions that have impacted malaria programs worldwide. Innovative strategies to enable countries aiming to eliminate malaria as well as those that are already certified as malaria-free, are needed to address malaria importation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. China was certified as malaria-free in 2021 and now aims to prevent the malaria re-establishment. Nonpharmaceutical interventions such as entry screening, quarantining, and health education for individuals returning from international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic present both opportunities and challenges to the management of imported malaria. This study aimed to describe and analyze the operational challenges associated with an integrated surveillance and case management program in which malaria re-establishment prevention measures were incorporated into the COVID-19 program in China.” READ MORE

June 20, 2022: Former PMs Urge Government To Increase Spending On Infectious Diseases After COVID-19 Setbacks (The Independent – UK)

“Two former British prime ministers have urged the government to increase spending on tackling AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, after the pandemic reversed recent gains that have been made in eradicating the three diseases. In a letter signed by 13 other former government leaders, Gordon Brown and David Cameron said that progress against the diseases – which collectively killed 2.8 million in 2020 – was in danger of being “lost” as a result of the failure to mount a proper response post-COVID-19. The letter calls for all Commonwealth Nations to increase their contributions to the Global Fund, an international partnership committed to eradicating Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, by 30 per cent. For the UK, this would mean raising its contributions from £1.46bn to £1.89bn. ‘This uplift is necessary to reclaim the lost gains from COVID-19,’ the leaders warn. ‘These losses need to be reversed, and progress towards ending Aids, TB and malaria by 2030… must be accelerated. Allowing these diseases to move faster than our response risks millions of lives.’” READ MORE

June 18, 2022: Performance Report Demonstrates How The UN Joint Programme On HIV And AIDS Has Helped Save Lives (UNAIDS)

“This year’s UNAIDS performance report demonstrates how the UN Joint Program on HIV and AIDS has critically contributed to key areas of the global HIV response and to saving lives, even in the face of the severe challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and financial shortfalls impacting the global HIV response and UNAIDS. The report outlines progress, across the 6 regions covered by the Joint Program in 8 strategy result areas and 5 functions, in ensuring effective and well-coordinated support to countries and communities, resource mobilization, strategic partnerships, strategic information, and effective governance and accountability. It shows UNAIDS high performance against the plan, measured through quantitative and qualitative data.” READ MORE

June 17, 2022: The Next Global Health Emergency Is Already Here – And It Isn’t A Pathogen (The Telegraph)

“The next global health threat is here – and it’s not a deadly new pathogen, but rocketing food and fuel prices, a leading expert has warned. Growing food shortages will not only cause starvation, but also put vulnerable populations at greater risk of existing and deadly pathogens, said Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “The mental framing in global health is around a brand new pathogen, but it increasingly looks like we’re facing a crisis where the poorest people are unable to heat and feed themselves,” Mr Sands said. “For some, tragically, there will be starvation. But much larger numbers will be more vulnerable to existing pathogens.” The warning from a leading figure in global health policy comes amid concern that price hikes and worldwide economic turmoil fed by the aftermath of Covid and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will badly hit the health of many of the world’s poorest.” READ MORE

June 16, 2022: Professors Receive $3.3M NIH Grant to Study COVID-19 Transmission, Immunity in Malawi (BU School of Public Health)

“Principal investigators Clarissa Valim and Patricia Hibberd will examine predictors of COVID-19 infection, and explore whether exposure to malaria and chronic malnutrition could determine immunity levels to the virus. Africa’s low COVID-19 infection rate and death toll have mystified health experts throughout the pandemic. Despite comprising nearly 20 percent of the world’s population, the continent has reported only 2 percent of global COVID-19 cases and 4 percent of global COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Some have theorized that Africa’s younger population, lack of testing capacity, exposure to other infections, and asymptomatic cases, may contribute to underestimated COVID-19 infection and mortality tolls, but these possibilities remain unclear.” READ MORE

June 14, 2022: Preventing Malaria Among Internally Displaced Persons in Mozambique (Presidential Malaria Initiative – Mozambique)

“For almost five years, families in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province have experienced ongoing violence from an armed insurgency. Cyclone Kenneth in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic only worsened an already complicated humanitarian emergency. Entire villages and communities have been devastated and left without infrastructure, means of self-support, and health care services. To date, almost 800,000 people have been displaced from their homes, about half of which are children, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In Cabo Delgado, malaria is a leading cause of death and illness and is also unfortunately quite common: In 2018, almost two out of every three children under age five tested positive for malaria. Displaced families are particularly vulnerable to malaria-carrying mosquitoes because in fleeing their homes many had to leave behind their bed nets or lost them along the way. In refugee camps and local communities where they have moved, many live in tents or crowded into homes and do not have access to tools to protect them from mosquitoes.” READ MORE

June 10, 2022: African solutions to African problems: Reframing science innovation (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“As we turn our focus towards other pandemics, such as COVID-19, we cannot afford to lose the gains made in HIV. It is a trap we fell into before — when early HIV work overshadowed TB efforts — and it is not one we can afford to be caught in again. Even now, COVID-19 continues to draw on lessons from the decades of work that have been poured into our HIV/AIDS response. This includes leveraging existing testing tools to detect COVID, utilising clinical trial infrastructure to expedite vaccine development, calling on community engagement processes to educate the public, and relying on scientific expertise to guide governments in their response.” READ MORE

June 10, 2022: On Three Different Continents, Rural Health Strains under the Weight of the COVID-19 (Scientific American – USA, Ecuador, Zimbabwe)

“Throughout the pandemic, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has laid bare weak points in the world’s health care systems. This has been true in arguably every country and every community, but the fractures have been especially apparent in rural areas, where poor access to health care long predated the pandemic. In this three-part story, Undark explores the gaps in rural health care systems around the world, following the daily work of a village health worker in a small township in central Zimbabwe; a newly graduated rural doctor on a required year-long stint at a remote clinic in northern Ecuador; and a family doctor at a private practice in upstate New York.” READ MORE

June 6, 2022: He Helped Cure the ‘London Patient’ of H.I.V. Then He Turned to COVID-19 (New York Times)

“The response to COVID-19 has accelerated largely because of H.I.V. advances. There have been huge advances in how we make drugs, target viruses, and a lot of this technology has been honed on H.I.V… Of course strides have been made in H.I.V. over about 20 years. That happened very quickly for COVID-19. And in the absence of a vaccine and mRNA technology, we would be in a much darker place.” READ MORE

June 6, 2022: How (RED) Is Saving Lives Fighting AIDS & COVID-19 (Forbes)

“Two decades ago, if you lived in London and received an HIV diagnosis, you were sent home with a prescription. But if you lived in Lusaka, you were sent home to die because treatments were unavailable. Life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) now costs as little as 20 cents a day, a sharp decline from when medication cost roughly $27 a day in the early 2000’s. Over 28 million people now have access to ARVs, more than triple the number on treatment in 2010. One of the reasons for this shift was the creation of an organization called the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, one of the largest and most effective global health partnerships on the planet. Launched in 2002, the Global Fund was created as a private-public partnership to fund the end of these three diseases, yet the private sector was lagging behind. In 2006, (RED) was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to drive corporate investments into the Global Fund by turning companies and their consumers into a cavalry to fight the AIDS pandemic.” READ MORE

June 4, 2022: HIV Infection Increases Odds of Severe COVID-19 (Contagion Live)

“People living with HIV are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 at hospital admission and in-hospital mortality compared to those without HIV, according to a paper published in The Lancet… ‘We found that underlying conditions are common and more frequent among people living with HIV than the general population,’ the study authors concluded. ‘Alongside the response to COVID-19, it is thus critical to maintain access to essential health services for this vulnerable group.’” READ MORE

June 4, 2022: There’s Still No HIV Vaccine. The Science Behind COVID-19 Shots May Help (Washington Post)

“The new technology that helped coronavirus shots break every speed record in medicine is opening a promising new avenue of research that could accelerate the pursuit of an HIV vaccine. Messenger RNA vaccines can be created and tested in months, not the year or more it can take for more traditional technologies. Speed alone won’t solve the most difficult parts of the HIV problem. It will give scientists the ability to make and test vaccines quickly and establish a faster research rhythm: try ideas, tinker with them in real time and discard duds… ‘Even as recently as five years ago, there were a lot of people who would say this is a beautiful scientific idea but ridiculous to imagine in real life,” Stephenson said, describing the potential of mRNA vaccines. “I was one of those people. The world has changed.’” READ MORE

 June 7, 2022: Antiviral Gene Known To Block HIV Also Shows Potent Activity Against COVID-19 (UBNow)

“New UB research reveals valuable information about the ways that host cells work to block entry of SARS-CoV-2 and, in turn, how the virus strikes back. The findings uncover important features about cellular interactions between virus and host, and how they might be exploited to develop new methods of treatment for both SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and HIV… The team focused on the host gene called Serine Incorporator 5 (SERINC5), which is potently antiviral toward HIV-1, the most prevalent form of the virus. They found that this gene also exhibits potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and interestingly, it utilizes the same mechanism to block both SARS-CoV-2 and HIV.” READ MORE

June 6, 2022: People Living With HIV and on Retroviral Therapy Have Strong Response to COVID-19 Vaccination: Canadian Study (Managed Healthcare – Canada)

“One of the worries about COVID-19 vaccination was whether people living with HIV would respond as well to the vaccine as people without HIV. But so far, most of the evidence has allayed those concerns, including results reported by a group of Canadian researchers. In fact, corresponding author Zabrina L. Brumme, Ph.D., a professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and her colleagues reported that people living with HIV had the same or an even stronger antibody response to a third shot of a vaccine and that was especially so for those who were vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine.” READ MORE

June 3, 2022: South Africa To Refocus On HIV, TB After Neglect During COVID-19 Pandemic (Business Standard – South Africa)

“South Africa said it will focus its attention now on catching up on the backlog in identifying HIV and TB cases that were out on the backburner during the COVID-19 pandemic… “We lost some of the pace as we focused on the pandemic. We have already agreed with all (provincial health ministers) that the key is to integrate the mitigation against COVID-19 into our comprehensive basket of services from primary health care levels upwards, including the vaccination program, which must increasingly be part of our comprehensive services,” Phaahla said. He said the great pressure that coronavirus had put on hospitals and frontline medical staff has been greatly eased, allowing a return to issues such as getting people with HIV and tuberculosis onto appropriate treatment.” READ MORE

June 3, 2022: 200,000 Undetected Tuberculosis Infections Occur Annually in Nigeria, Says FG (This Day – Nigeria)

“According to the minister, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there was an 18 per cent drop globally in the number of tuberculosis cases diagnosed and notified, from 7.1 million in 2019, to 5.8 million in 2020. In the same period, Ehanire also said tuberculosis deaths increased significantly as a result of reduced attention to treatment of patients. He said Nigeria, as with many others countries, suffered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with negative socio-economic trends and health service disruptions. Ehanire further said following the introduction of lockdown measures for pandemic control in the second quarter of 2020, tuberculosis testing reduced by about 30 per cent, resulting in 17 per cent reduction in tuberculosis case finding and notification.” READ MORE

May 30, 2022: Lessons In Resilience: What HIV Teaches Us About COVID-19 (Contagion Live)

“The resilience and solidarity of health care workers who have risen to the challenges of COVID-19 have been a source of inspiration worldwide. Many health workers had never experienced caring for patients with a new and potentially fatal contagious illness before COVID-19. Yet, there were many similarities between these 2 pandemics in their early years… Our review uses a human rights–based approach that values inclusion, fairness, and equity, eg, equal global access to antiretroviral therapies and COVID-19 vaccines. This perspective offers the best way to understand, prevent, and treat COVID-19 and to address the inequities among vulnerable populations.3 It also defines health broadly to include adequate housing, nutrition, a healthy environment, and respect for the rights of women, LGBTQ+ persons, and communities of color. Jonathan Mann, MD, Paul Farmer, MD, and others taught us that human rights are essential in the fight against HIV and HIV stigma, and these rights are equally critical for COVID-19.” READ MORE

May 30, 2022: The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Tuberculosis Patient Treatment Adherence: A Literature Review (Journal of Respirology – Indonesia)

“The Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused a lack of attention to treatment of tuberculosis (TB). TB patients who do not adhere to treatment during a pandemic can cause various health problems in various countries. COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects TB patients such as increasing psychological stress, triggering non-adherence to treatment, affecting patients quality of life and even increasing the number of deaths of TB patients. The increasing number of deaths and decreasing success of TB treatment during the pandemic are serious problems that must be addressed immediately.” READ MORE

May 27, 2022: Reflections On The 2021 World Malaria Report And The Future Of Malaria Control (BMC Malaria Journal)

“While countries were able to prevent the worst-case scenarios, the disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how weak health systems and inadequate financing can limit the capacity of the continent to address the malaria challenge… Malaria deaths increased by 12% to an estimated 627,000 in 2020, compared to 2019 figures, with more than two-thirds of the additional 69,000 deaths attributable to COVID19-related service disruptions… The pandemic brought the global malaria community together in a way not previously seen, to ensure a buffer against service delivery disruptions.” READ MORE

May 25, 2022: Davos 2022: Bill Gates Says Pfizer Partnership Will Support Malaria mRNA Vaccine ‘Dream’ (The National)

“A partnership between US drug maker Pfizer and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to speed up the development of vaccines to prevent diseases that cause newborn mortality would also advance efforts to make a high-tech malaria vaccine, Bill Gates said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday. Pfizer and the foundation will also work with Rwanda, Malawi and other African countries to increase access to all of the company’s medicines and vaccines for their populations… The number of deaths from malaria is rising again, partly due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic… Covid-19 also accelerated the development of mRNA technology by Pfizer and other pharmaceutical makers. ” READ MORE

May 24, 2022: World Health Assembly: UNAIDS Urges Leaders To Tackle Inequalities And Fully Embrace Human Rights To Beat Emerging Pandemics (UNAIDS – Switzerland)

“To end AIDS, beat COVID-19 and stop the pandemics of the future, global access to life-saving, pandemic-ending health technologies is critical. We need to replace intellectual property rules that restrict access to life-saving medicines for people in the Global South with those that require technology sharing. This would open up access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and to new emerging long-acting medicines for HIV prevention and treatment, as well as for medicines for other pandemics… Our collective health security, and the effectiveness of global pandemic responses, requires that we adequately finance them. This includes fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. ” READ MORE

May 24, 2022: The Impact Of COVID-19 On Essential Health Service Provision For Endemic Infectious Diseases In The South-East Asia Region: A Systematic Review (The Lancet – South-East Asia)

“There is increasing evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted adversely on the provision of essential health services. The South East Asia region (SEAR) has experienced extremely high rates of COVID-19 infection, and continues to bear a significant proportion of communicable disease burden worldwide… We identified significant disruption to TB testing (range=25% to 77.9%) and diagnoses (range=50% to 58%) in India, Nepal, and Indonesia; and similar disruptions were observed for screening, new diagnoses and commencing HIV treatment in India and Thailand. ” READ MORE

May 24, 2022: Davos Booster For $18 Billion Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Reuters)

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced its first pledge from the private sector on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, on Tuesday. The $10 million pledge by Comic Relief U.S. unlocks a matching $20 million commitment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The fund has set a 2024-2026 fundraising target of $18 billion. U.S. President Joe Biden, who will host an upcoming conference, has already signalled a $6 billion commitment. Disruptions to healthcare caused by COVID-19 around the world saw reversals in testing and treatment of all three deadly diseases, said executive director Peter Sands.” READ MORE

May 22, 2022: Mumbai: BMC Banks On AI To Detect Tuberculosis Faster, Screens X-Ray In 3 Minutes (The Times of India – India)

“When Covid-19- the newest public health emergency-hit Mumbai, the BMC did more than roping in contract doctors, buying medicines, and setting up field hospitals. It used the modern medical tool of artificial intelligence (AI) to track the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A year later, it decided to use AI to combat one of the oldest scourges tuberculosis.” READ MORE

May 22, 2022: U.S. Announces More Funding For HIV/AIDS Fight In Latin America (Los Angeles Blade – United States)

“First lady Jill Biden on Saturday announced the U.S. will provide an additional $80.9 million to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Latin America.Biden during a visit to Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano, a shelter for people with HIV/AIDS in Panama City, said the State Department will earmark an additional $80.9 million for President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-funded work in Latin America.” READ MORE

May 22, 2022: Assessing The Knowledge And Practices Of Primary Healthcare Workers On Malaria Diagnosis And Related Challenges In View Of COVID-19 Outbreak In A Nigerian Southwestern Metropolis (medRxiv)

“The clinical features of COVID-19 and malaria are interrelated. Due to the similarity of symptoms between the two disease states, patients can be incorrectly diagnosed with the other ailment in areas with limited health resources. There is a dearth of knowledge of co-infection between COVID-19 and malaria from healthcare providers’ perspective. Hence, this study assessed the ability of primary healthcare workers to diagnose malaria infection correctly from COVID-19 infection.” READ MORE

May 10, 2022: Clinical Features Of, And Risk Factors For, Severe Or Fatal COVID-19 Among People Living With HIV Admitted To Hospital: Analysis Of Data From The WHO Global Clinical Platform Of COVID-19 (The Lancet)

“WHO has established a Global Clinical Platform for the clinical characterisation of COVID-19 among hospitalised individuals. We assessed whether people living with HIV hospitalised with COVID-19 had increased odds of severe presentation and of in-hospital mortality compared with individuals who were HIV-negative and associated risk factors… The use of ART or viral load suppression were associated with a reduced risk of poor outcomes; however, HIV infection remained a risk factor for severity and mortality regardless of ART and viral load suppression status.” READ MORE

May 10, 2022: A Collision Of Pandemics: HIV and COVID-19 (The Lancet)

“From the beginning of the pandemic, serious concerns were raised that COVID-19 might be associated with more severe disease and worse outcomes in people living with HIV. These concerns were not unfounded, given that respiratory viral infections are common, and might be more severe, in people living with HIV… The main outcome findings were that people living with HIV had a 15% greater odds of a severe or critical COVID-19 presentation (aOR 1·15, 95% CI 1·10–1·20) and a 38% greater chance of dying in hospital (aHR 1·38, 1·34–1·41) compared with people who were HIV-negative.” READ MORE

5/10/22 As Poor Nations Seek Covid Pills, Officials Fear Repeat of AIDS Crisis (New York Times)

“Rich nations, including the United States, have gobbled up much of the supply. Global health agencies do not have the money to buy the antivirals or tests, which are crucial because the medication needs to be started early in the course of infection. Drug companies, trying to protect their patents, are limiting the supply of generic alternatives in many middle-income countries, including an entire swath of Latin America. All of this is playing out against the infectious disease equivalent of a ticking time bomb. ‘We all expect a major new surge from Omicron or a new variant in the global south from June to September, and if that happens, we are not going to be ready with test and treat,’ said Dr. Bill Rodriguez, who runs the testing arm of the ACT Accelerator, the Geneva-based consortium coordinating the global response. ‘It feels extremely similar — painfully, ironically, tragically similar — to what happened with H.I.V.’” READ MORE

5/7/22 Ominous Rise in TB Deaths Points to Need for More U.S. Global Health Funding (Cleveland)

“The World Health Organization reports that, for the first time in more than a decade, tuberculosis deaths are rising around the globe. WHO estimates that 10 million people fell sick with TB in 2020 and 1.5 million people died. Previously successful TB programs and aid, among other essential services, have faltered as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.WHO concludes that the pandemic’s effect on essential health services has hindered years of progress against tuberculosis achieved through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.” READ MORE

5/3/22 Covid-19 Has Made Tuberculosis Even More Of A Forgotten Pandemic (Forbes)

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic goes well beyond the disease itself. It extends to neglected tropical diseases, as well as the so-called “big three” infectious diseases malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, by crowding out R&D funds and disrupting non-Covid-19 related healthcare services. The rapid and unprecedented national and international response to Covid-19 after he virus was first reported in December 2019 led to massive R&D outlays. In 2020 alone, well over $100 billion was spent on Covid-19 diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics. Judging from the numbers of products developed at warp speed, the money was well spent. SARS-CoV-2 was first sequenced in January 2020. Since then, at least 25 vaccines have been licensed for use worldwide.” READ MORE

4/28/22 Q&A: We did it for COVID-19 — so why not for TB? (Devex)

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a much less headline-grabbing disease was responsible for the majority of infectious disease deaths: tuberculosis. In 2020 alone, it killed 1.5 million people according to the World Health Organization’s latest “Global Tuberculosis Report.” The same year, COVID-19 claimed the lives of 1.7 million people but received wall-to-wall media coverage — and much more attention and investment than TB.” READ MORE

4/25/22: Global Fund Urges the World to Boost the Fight Against Malaria as COVID-19 Disruptions, Drug and Insecticide Resistance and New Threats Endanger Progress (The Global Fund)

“Ahead of World Malaria Day, 25 April, the Global Fund calls for renewed commitment in the fight against malaria, a disease that now kills one child every minute. After years of steady declines, malaria cases and deaths are on the rise mainly due to stalled funding and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide. This represents about 14 million more cases in 2020 compared to 2019, and 69,000 more deaths. Approximately two-thirds of these additional deaths were linked to COVID-19 disruptions. In addition, climate change-related fluctuations in rainfall, temperature and humidity may shift malaria transmission to areas that may not be adequately resourced or prepared to prevent, detect, and treat the disease. Invasive malaria-carrying mosquito species are spreading to new countries via freight traffic.” READ MORE

4/22/22: Malaria in 2022: A Year of Opportunity (The Lancet)

“The devastating setbacks to malaria programs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic might prompt a pessimistic answer. In April, 2020, WHO projected a doubling of malaria deaths during the pandemic if no actions were taken. Major global health organizations working on malaria—led by the Global Fund, along with the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, and the US President’s Malaria Initiative—put together the COVID-19 Response Mechanism, a massive effort to restructure resources and activities to avert the worst-case scenario. Still, there were 14 million more malaria cases and 69 000 more deaths in 2020 compared with 2019. An estimated 68% of the excess deaths were linked to service disruptions due to COVID-19. The pandemic diverted resources, overwhelmed health systems, and exacerbated inequalities, not only for malaria, but also for HIV and tuberculosis. Even before COVID-19, concerns had been voiced about the slowed progress of malaria programs.” READ MORE

4/19/22: Cutting Edge: After COVID-19, Can Genome Sequencing Help Identify Gene Responsible for Drug-Resistant TB? (The Indian Express)

“In the past two years, genome sequencing enabled scientists to rapidly identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants. Now, can the gains made during the Covid-19 pandemic be expanded to more uses and help frame public health responses for other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis — which India hopes to end by 2025? Taking a lead in this direction is the Pune-based B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, which plans to utilize their year-old genome sequencing facility to identify genes responsible for drug-resistant TB. Tuberculosis is the leading infectious disease killer in the world and was only recently overtaken by Covid-19. Compared to 2019, tuberculosis cases in 2020 reduced by 18% globally (from 7.1 million to 5.8 million cases) and by up to 24% in the ten worst-affected countries with high tuberculosis burden, as per the new Lancet Respiratory Medicine series published on March 23 this year.” READ MORE

4/18/22: For mRNA, COVD-19 Vaccines Are Just the Beginning (Wired)

“This difference allowed mRNA vaccines to be designed, created, and approved in record time. Over the past 18 months, mRNA technology has been injected into billions of arms and has helped slow the devastating impact of the pandemic. But its long-term impact—accelerated by Covid—could be even greater. ‘It seems like the sky is the limit,’ says Karikó. ‘Previously the belief was not there.’ Dozens of clinical trials are now underway for new forms of the mRNA vaccine—targeting everything from malaria to Zika, herpes, and cytomegalovirus. Last month, Moderna—which was founded in 2014 to explore the potential of mRNA—announced it had started Phase I clinical trials for two mRNA-based HIV vaccines. ‘The timeline for what can be achieved using the mRNA platform is so much better.’” READ MORE

4/14/22: The First Malaria Vaccine is a Leap Forward, But We Can’t Stop Now (Knowable Magazine)

“This is a wonderful success, but the war against malaria still has a long way to go. There will still need to be education campaigns to make sure the malaria vaccine rollout goes smoothly. And people still need to take all other sensible precautions, from sleeping under bed nets to draining the standing water that serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Meanwhile, other advances in malaria vaccines are also providing promise and hope, including recent studies of the R21 vaccine, which has been trialed in children in Burkina Faso. It looks set to provide a higher protection — 74 percent to 77 percent for six months after vaccination. And there are candidate mRNA vaccines that piggyback on the recent wild successes of Covid-19 vaccines, which have already been trialed in infants as young as six months. Intensive and focused research to improve RTS,S could also quickly yield a better vaccine.” READ MORE

4/14/22: It’s Time to Decentralize Tuberculosis (TB) Care: Bringing TB Services Closer to the Community

“The Covid-19 pandemic has not only impacted the lives and economies at a global level but has resulted in backsliding of other essential health services including TB. But TB did not go anywhere. The pandemic adversely impacted years of progress made in the fight against TB. However, despite of repurposing of human and material resources in health system for the Covid 19 pandemic, the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) has succeeded in retaining the focus on the goal of ending TB by 2025. NTEP has effectively demonstrated its versatility and resilience by introducing new initiatives and adapting an integrated approach to achieve its goal of ending TB. The key components of India’s response plan include integrating TB and Covid-19 in all outreach, including screening programs, and laboratory services. Efforts to detect TB and Covid cases in all health care facilities intensified, and rapid molecular testing for TB expanded.” READ MORE

4/13/22: Can mRNA Vaccine Tech Take on Tuberculosis? (SciDevNet)

“The WHO’s new mRNA technology transfer hubs have raised optimism that the time has come to find a new vaccine for TB. The WHO said that the mRNA technology transfer hubs would empower low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines, medicines and diagnostics, and the technology could also be used to develop vaccines for other priority diseases such as TB, malaria and HIV…. He says that the 2004 mRNA vaccine trialled on mice did not progress to human trials due to lack of funding and a perception that ‘getting an mRNA vaccine will be too difficult’. However, Sahu says, ‘the mRNA technology has progressed over the years and actually leap-frogged during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the right time now to use mRNA technology for developing a new and effective vaccine for TB.’” READ MORE

4/11/22: The Unbelievable Stupidity of Ending Global COVID-19 Aid (The New York Times)

“Even for a body as broken and ineffectual as Congress, this level of self-sabotage is hard to fathom. ‘The biggest risk we face domestically and globally is more new variants,’ said Konyndyk. Such variants, he said, are most likely to emerge in chronically immunocompromised populations, including people living with diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis; because they have trouble clearing the coronavirus, it lingers and has more opportunities to evolve. ‘That’s likely where Omicron came from, quite possibly where Delta came from,’ Konyndyk said. ‘So making sure that we are targeting those populations for vaccination and then targeting them with the rollout of antivirals is the best insurance policy we have against new variants. It’s not foolproof, but it’s the best we can do.’” READ MORE

4/7/22: South Africa: Time to Take Clean Indoor Air as Seriously as We Take Clean Water (All Africa)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on tuberculosis (TB) care in South Africa and globally, with TB-related deaths increasing for the first time in a decade. However, since COVID-19 and TB are both airborne infections, the attention surrounding mitigation measures could provide a glimmer of hope for the TB response. Much of this synergy has focused on mask-wearing, which can reduce the risks of transmission of both COVID-19 and TB that result from exposure to shared air. Mask-wearing has gained traction and some level of acceptance during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Yet there has been inadequate prioritization of the need to improve the safety of our shared air. This is particularly important in crowded indoor settings that pose the highest risk of transmission and requires dedicated efforts, resources, and policy changes to improve indoor ventilation.” READ MORE

4/8/22: COVID-19 is Not the Only Pandemic that Needs to End: Jakarta Post Contributors (The Strait Times)

“Unlike Covid-19 vaccinations, preventing HIV is not made a priority. The absence of HIV prevention as national priority has led to rates of new HIV infections that are not declining at a rapid enough speed. In 2020, 28 thousand new HIV infections were estimated in Indonesia, 46 per cent of which occurred among young people between 15-24 years of age. Inaction to the AIDS epidemic has come at a high price. Indonesia’s bold actions and commitments against Covid-19 cannot stop there. In 2021, Indonesia as a UN member state adopted the Political Declaration to End AIDS, committing itself to meet the global targets and to tackle inequalities that drive the epidemic…. As the world commemorates World Health Day on April 7, we send an urgent reminder that Covid-19 is not the only pandemic that needs to end.” READ MORE

4/7/22: South Africa Needs to Establish a Pandemic Preparedness Initiative Now (Daily Maverick)

“The COVID-19 pandemic came as no surprise to infectious disease specialists – it had been anticipated for decades. Although the spread of a virus from one species to another is fortunately relatively rare, viruses can potentially adapt to a new species environment, then spread to become a pandemic. Therefore it is imperative that countries develop robust strategies for responding to pandemics, supported by clear operational plans at national and provincial levels….The clinical burden of this pandemic has been particularly heavy for healthcare staff and systems. Our health system is not resilient enough, and that led to a regression of services such as programmatic TB, HIV and non-communicable disease treatment platforms, with the added pandemic stress. That translated into untold human suffering and increased mortality, as well as substantial morale injury for an overwhelmed health workforce.” READ MORE

4/6/22: Opinion: A Test of America’s Commitment to the World (Devex)

“A fever-testing infrastructure that could be used for COVID-19 already exists in many countries — and it can be converted to test for diseases such as COVID-19 at a fraction of what it would take to build such a robust system from scratch. I’m referring to the front-line malaria testing capacity that the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have helped countries to construct over the past 20 years. As one of humanity’s oldest and deadliest diseases, malaria is currently a daily endemic threat for almost half the world. It turns out that COVID-19 typically shares seven of 10 primary symptoms with malaria, most notably fever. That makes malaria testing platforms especially powerful, not just in detecting COVID-19, but also for potential future pandemics, which are likely to present symptoms such as fever.” READ MORE

4/6/22: Hunting the ‘Perfect Protein’ for Malaria mRNA Vaccine (SciDevNet)

“BioNTech, which developed a COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with Pfizer, plans to begin clinical trials with the first mRNA-based malaria vaccine by the end of 2022, the company informed investors and the press last year. The German company also aims to set up mRNA manufacturing facilities in Africa. The WHO recently announced a global mRNA technology transfer hub, established to support manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines. A South African consortium was selected to run the hub, and two regional ‘spokes’ have been established in Brazil and Argentina. Brazil’s Immunobiological Technology Institute was selected in September by the WHO for the development and production of vaccines using mRNA. The primary focus will be the COVID-19 pandemic, but this initiative is expected to allow the production and faster distribution of new vaccines, including one against malaria, in the future.” READ MORE

4/5/22: Global TB Fight Set Back Years by COVID, Health Experts Say (VOA News)

“As the world impatiently looks for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, another tenacious pandemic, tuberculosis, has gained new strength and threatens millions of people around the world, health experts say. With less funding for its detection and care programs, and more deaths resulting from it, the global fight against TB has seen major setbacks. ‘We’ve lost five years of progress or more in the fight against TB because of the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic,’ David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told VOA.Dowdy’s assessment is echoed by the World Health Organization. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis and for the first time in over a decade,’ said Amna Smailbegovic, a WHO spokesperson.” READ MORE

4/4/22: Researchers Call for Real-time Tuberculosis Data like COVID-19 Dashboards (The Indian Express)

“Researchers from the country and across the world have called for real-time dashboards for tuberculosis cases and deaths much like the ones that have been used for the monitoring of COVID-19. ‘Instead of annual tuberculosis reports, global and national public-facing dashboards and trackers reporting real-time numbers of tuberculosis cases and deaths, including monitoring of trends over time, would be a useful addition to tuberculosis monitoring. They would keep the public informed and hold services accountable at national, regional, and global levels…. Almost one in three (around 3 million) people with active tuberculosis, even in the pre-COVID-19 era, remained undiagnosed or unreported globally. These individuals act as a potential reservoir for transmission. The majority of these so-called missing individuals often reside in peri-urban informal settlements of large cities in Africa and Asia. We need to take tuberculosis testing closer to where people live and work.’” READ MORE

4/1/22: Spotlight on Health Care Workers Fighting HIV in Sri Lanka (The Global Fund)

“Health workers are the backbone of any well-functioning health system. Over the last two years the COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified their enormous contributions. For World Health Worker Week 2022 we shine a spotlight on health workers at the Community Center and Health Clinic in Slave Island, a suburb of Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo. The team provides HIV prevention, testing and care to people who inject drugs, a key population group who are up to 35 times more likely to acquire HIV compared to other adults. ‘I do my work happily because I get the opportunity to work with a vulnerable group. We come to the community during a time that is convenient for them and to a place that is accessible for them,’ says outreach worker Buddhika Gunasekara.” READ MORE

4/1/22: Amidst COVID-19 Response, WHO and Partners Support Nigeria Towards Attaining a TB Free- Status (African Business)

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners have continued to support the Government of Nigeria in combatting the TB scourge. For Nigeria to attain the Sustainable Development Goals, active TB case finding is vital in combatting the scourge of the disease as over 300,000 cases are estimated to be missed annually. To improve TB case findings, notwithstanding the pandemic, the WHO, with the support of USAID, convened a multi-stakeholder meeting to leverage COVID-19 response to drive a joint TB/COVID-19 bidirectional screening, vaccination…. He posited that the existing platform of the TB control programme presents the opportunity to scale up and institutionalize case finding, vaccine access, testing and treatment for COVID. Also, joint TB and COVID activities allow the opportunity to track the pandemic in Nigeria.” READ MORE

3/30/22: Cautious Optimism for Trials of mRNA-Based HIV Vaccine (SciDevNet)

“According to the World Health Organization, more than two-thirds of the 25 million people living with HIV live in Africa, where the risk of dying from the disease is also the highest. There are a number of reasons for this: a lack of access to quality healthcare, the cost of antiretroviral therapy, and the stigma associated with HIV. These factors combine to make Africa a less interesting target for pharmaceutical companies. This has been evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being home to 1.3 billion people, only 375 million vaccine doses had been administered in Africa as of March this year, according to the WHO. For this reason, there is growing concern about access among those monitoring the development of mRNA and conventional vaccines for HIV. There is no certainty whether, if successful, an mRNA HIV vaccine will be available to those who need it most.” READ MORE

3/29/22: What is Impeding Africa’s TB Fight? (WHO Africa)

“COVID-19 has affected TB case finding and TB linkage to care. In many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from tackling TB to the COVID-19 response, limiting the availability of essential services. People affected by TB have struggled to seek care in the context of lockdowns. COVID-19 has also impacted the detection of drug-resistant TB, with the number of cases recorded in the AFRO region has decreased by 28% in 2020 compared to 2019. There are also reports of inadequate patient retention in care, as COVID-19 has exacerbated weaknesses existing before the pandemic. Although there are negative effects, we can apply some of the lessons learned in fighting COVID-19 in TB control. These include the effective collaboration between the public and the private health sectors, the real-time reporting of new cases and effective dissemination of information.” READ MORE

3/28/22: ‘Africa Must be Self-Sufficient’: John Nkengasong on Learning the Deadly Lessons of Pandemics (The Guardian)

“The past five years have been ‘like going from one fire to the next, with barely any time to catch your breath’, says John Nkengasong, the outgoing head of the body charged with responding to health emergencies in Africa. A relentless term as the first director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) saw Nkengasong manage the response to Ebola and Lassa fever outbreaks. But nothing compared to the formidable test brought by Covid-19. With health systems focused towards fighting the pandemic, HIV rates were at risk of rising, he says. ‘They are both pandemics, but this one [HIV] is moving more quietly. It’s a big concern at this time and it’s an issue that’s very important to me. We have to make sure we aren’t dealing with one pandemic and letting another one spread in silence.’” READ MORE

3/24/22: The Pivotal Role the Private Sector Can Play in Fight Against TB (The Global Fund)

“The fight against TB has been a long and arduous one. In the 20 years that the Global Fund has been operating, the TB burden has been declining steadily, but the threat of multidrug-resistant TB looms large, and in 2020, the arrival of COVID-19 set us back decades. For the first time in our history, key programmatic results declined, and TB deaths increased, fueled by a surge in the number of undiagnosed and untreated cases. TB still kills more than 1.5 million people a year. In India alone, that’s about 1,400 people a day. What COVID-19 also did was shine a light on the importance and possibility for adaptation of service delivery models, increased digitization, and adoption of new tools and greater investment. This gave us not just hope, but compelling evidence that private sector engagement, innovation and technical expertise will pave the way toward a world that is free of TB.” READ MORE

3/24/22: Opinion: Tuberculosis, an Infectious Killer that Never Got its Due (Devex)

“Cumulative funding for TB research between 2016 and 2020 amounted to $4.2 billion, or less than half of the $9 billion financing target called for in the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020. These numbers pale in comparison to the €93 billion — that is, around $100 billion — invested in COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics alone in 2020. That figure is over 100 times more than the $915 million spent by all funders on TB research that year and over 150 times more than the $641 million spent by governments. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, pandemic preparedness efforts have been moving in full swing. Increased funding and resources, including public funding, have been given to organizations like the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — yet existing pandemics like TB do not feature anywhere in these conversations. Unless we jointly collaborate in these efforts, ending TB by 2030 will continue to remain a distant dream.” READ MORE

3/24/22: Low Funding, COVID-19 Curtail Tuberculosis Fight in Africa (WHO Africa)

“Inadequate investment and funding for tuberculosis (TB) control in Africa is jeopardizing the efforts to meet the global target of ending the disease by 2030, while the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to roll back progress made so far in the continent, an assessment by World Health Organization (WHO) finds. Every year the African region requires at least US$ 1.3 billion for TB prevention and treatment. However, countries contribute 22% of the needed budget while external funding accounts for 34%. The rest of the budget remains unfunded, seriously undermining the efforts to eliminate the disease. This year, World TB Day is being marked under the theme ‘Invest to end TB. Save Lives.’” READ MORE

3/23/22: Ending the Tuberculosis Syndemic: Is COVID-19 the (In)Convenient Scapegoat for Poor Progress (The Lancet)

“COVID-19 wiped out 10 years of gains in tuberculosis outcomes in less than 10 months. Evidently, we did not build and prepare resilient health programmes for tuberculosis. Programmes for other diseases appear to be more resilient and were affected less. The number of tuberculosis deaths (excluding those caused by HIV) rose for the first time in 10 years in 2020–21. By contrast, the number of HIV deaths has stayed low. Since 2015, when HIV was announced as the number 1 cause of death from an infectious agent, we have seen better-funded HIV programmes substantially lower mortality to below that of tuberculosis. The HIV response evolved to become patient-centric and offer inspired, decentralised care (eg, community antiretroviral clubs and HIV self-testing) and robust distribution systems for antiretrovirals, and successfully incorporated its goals within other programmes to reflect HIV priorities.” READ MORE

3/23/22: Impact of COVID-19 Hits Hard as TB Deaths Among People Living with HIV Rise for the First Time Since 2006 (UNAIDS)

“‘The increase in TB deaths among people living with HIV is alarming and demonstrates the fragility of pandemic progress,’ said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. ‘When COVID-19 hit, global attention on HIV and TB shifted as the world focused on tackling the new pandemic. This has meant lives needlessly lost and important targets missed for HIV, TB and other diseases. Urgent action and increased investments are needed to get us back on track.’ People living with HIV are 18 times more likely to develop TB disease. Although around 85% of people who develop TB disease can be successfully treated, the treatment success rates for people living with HIV are much lower, at around 77%. This demonstrates the importance of scaling up prevention efforts as well as treatment for the two diseases.” READ MORE

3/22/22: Global Fund Calls for Renewed Urgency in Fight to End TB (The Global Fund)

“On World TB Day, 24 March, the Global Fund is urgently calling for the world to reignite the fight to end tuberculosis (TB) by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended years of progress in the fight against TB. Deaths from the disease rose for the first time in more than a decade, fueled by a surge in undiagnosed and untreated cases. ‘If we fail to step up the fight against TB, we must accept that we are effectively abandoning the 2030 goal to end the disease as a public health threat,’ said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. ‘We must mount a massive effort to diagnose people quickly and get them the necessary treatment. TB is deadly and is the top infectious disease killer after COVID-19.’” READ MORE

3/22/22: Can COVID-19 Changes Reduce Stigma in African HIV Clinics? (The Lancet)

“During the COVID-19 crisis, HIV clinics globally pivoted their care delivery model. Virtual visits became the norm in the USA and other high resource settings. In low resource settings in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Uganda, clinics implemented social distancing practices for both staff and clients. Clinics called each client to check-in, sent drugs in larger quantities via motorcycle taxis, switched from open clinics to scheduled clinics, and reduced barriers to those transferring between clinics or obtaining drugs from the client’s non-primary clinic due to travel restrictions. The focus deprioritized visits for long-term virally suppressed individuals, to visits for individuals with acute issues, new diagnoses, or for those newly re-initiating care. Although these strategies help reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, they might offer an opportunity to improve privacy and care delivery with an unintended but essential effect on reducing stigma.” READ MORE

3/16/22: Biden’s PEPFAR Pick Pledges ‘Respectful Partnership’ with Local Leaders (Devex)

“In those two years, the global fight against HIV has been severely disrupted by COVID-19, and the pandemic has sparked questions about how PEPFAR and other U.S. global health programs might be reorganized to address broader issues of global health security. Nkengasong told lawmakers that while the pandemic has negatively affected some HIV programs, those same platforms have been used to scale up vaccination against COVID-19. ‘I think it’s really an opportune moment to harness that investment that we’ve put in place for the last 20 years to make it a more robust and efficient system in fighting the HIV pandemic as well as other emerging diseases,’ he said.” READ MORE

3/15/22: Increased Support Needed for a Coordinated Global HIV and COVID-19 Response (News Wise)

“The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant is a stark illustration of the intersecting COVID-19 and HIV pandemics, highlighting the relationship and detrimental effects each of these infectious diseases has on the other. The authors cite considerable data indicating that immunocompromised persons with persistent COVID-19 could be the origin of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC). Sub-Saharan Africa, with its high proportion of persons with HIV infection often undiagnosed and less than optimally treated, has the highest proportion of persons with immunosuppression. Countries with high HIV infection rates also tend to have low vaccination coverage for COVID-19. The authors advocate for programs to integrate and enhance diagnosis, vaccination and clinical management and research for persons with HIV and COVID-19 and their families and communities.” READ MORE

3/15/22: Surge of HIV, Tuberculosis and COVID-19 Feared Amid War in Ukraine (Nature)

“Adding to the brutal, immediate effects of Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian people are facing an onslaught of infectious diseases. Some threats — such as the spread of COVID-19 — are immediate, as people huddle in basements, subway stations and temporary shelters to protect themselves from bombardments. Without adequate water and sanitation, cases of diarrhoeal diseases are certain to rise. The risk of polio and measles outbreaks is high. And as health facilities and roads are reduced to rubble, access to diagnostic services and treatments for tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS is being interrupted, which will add to their already sky-high burden.” READ MORE

3/15/22: COVID-19 Vaccine’s mRNA Technology Also Works for an HIV Vaccine, Study Shows (PBS)

“HIV vaccines have been in development for decades, but a long-lasting one has yet to be successful. The mRNA technology offers new opportunities because mRNA produces a more potent antibody response. A recent vaccine trial in Thailand was able to produce neutralizing antibodies against HIV, but it was only about 30% effective and protection wore off after about a year. The idea here is to create something that’s more like 70% effective, said Weissman, and longer lasting. Weissman has been studying mRNA technology for decades, and he and his team had several trials underway that were delayed by the pandemic. Now, they’re resuming: He’s looking at developing mRNA vaccines for herpes, influenza, a pan-corona virus, and malaria. He said the technology’s success in the COVID-19 vaccines has meant interest in those trials from pharmaceutical companies, funders, and research institutions has skyrocketed.” READ MORE

3/11/22: Africa Prepares for Endemic COVID-19 (Nature)

“As countries in Europe and elsewhere roll back strict measures against COVID-19 and aim to soon declare the pandemic over, African countries and their public health stakeholders are also starting to shift their attention. Vaccination continues to remain important, but the focus is moving on to longer-term testing and surveillance approaches that can be integrated into, and will strengthen, national health systems…. ‘Beyond the response to COVID, we need to maintain this dynamism by maintaining health issues on our agenda, in order to support the emergence of an African pharmaceutical industry that can meet our essential needs and face pandemics like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,’ Sall told AU member states. To this end, the AU has worked with Africa CDC to launch the Partnership on Africa Vaccine Manufacturing in 2021, to encourage countries to work together to identify capacities, mobilize resources and accelerate vaccine production in Africa, including mRNA vaccines.” READ MORE

3/10/22: Global Fund Approves Emergency Funding to Maintain Essential HIV and TB Services in Ukraine (The Global Fund)

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved US$30 million to top up its Emergency Fund, including US$15 million to support the continuity of HIV and TB prevention, testing and treatment services in Ukraine. This is on top of the US$119.4 million allocated to Ukraine to support the fight against HIV and TB in the country over the 2020-2022 period, and of the US$46.6 million granted for the COVID-19 response since the pandemic broke out. ‘We are extremely alarmed by the devastating effects on peoples’ lives in Ukraine,’ said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. ‘Ensuring patients affected by the conflict can continue to access prevention and treatment services is our immediate priority.’” READ MORE

3/10/22: Tuberculosis: South Africa’s Forgotten Killer (New Frame)

“A persistent cough. High fever. Night sweats. Not very long ago, patients presenting with these symptoms in South Africa were sent straight for a tuberculosis test. Not so since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The similarity between tuberculosis and Covid-19 symptoms, and the resultant failures to exclude for tuberculosis among patients who present with them, is one of the reasons that untreated cases of South Africa’s most chronic killer have likely surged under the cover of lockdown. Another has to do with the nature of South Africa’s approach to tuberculosis, which is passive and does not involve active case finding. The country’s public healthcare system does not go looking for tuberculosis. It waits for tuberculosis to walk through the door. But hard lockdowns prevented people from doing just that.” READ MORE

3/9/22: Health Experts Plead with Biden to ‘Reverse Course’ in Global Pandemic Response (Politico)

“Over 100 public health, medical and epidemiology experts and advocates sent the Biden administration a letter on Wednesday begging it to do more to control the pandemic around the world, saying America’s current global efforts have failed. The authors asked the administration to share Covid-19 vaccine technology and increase manufacturing around the world, ask for more funding from Congress to support distribution in low- and middle-income countries and increase access to Covid therapeutics and rapid tests around the world…. These moves — both public and private — are part of a flurry of actions around treating the pandemic in low- and middle-income countries while also working to build infrastructure to prevent future pandemics. Yamey, though, worries that Covid could follow the path of diseases like HIV or tuberculosis: become well controlled in wealthier countries but continue to wreak havoc in poorer nations.” READ MORE

3/7/22: Is Covid Over? No, But Global Health Funders Are Moving On (Politico)

“As global health organizations are trying to hold on to their Covid-19 funding and continue to help protect vulnerable populations and simultaneously prepare for the next pandemic, they are also trying to revamp their existing programming. The intense focus on Covid-19 over the past two years has reversed progress on HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and immunization campaigns, global health experts say. The Global Fund announced recently that the world needs $18 billion to get back on track with that programming while at the same time fighting Covid-19 and preparing for the next pandemic. ‘It’s like we’re all trying to walk and chew gum at the same time,’ one global health advocate working in Washington told me. It’s a catch-phrase that many used in describing the dichotomy between continuing to focus on ramping up Covid-19 vaccinations and also preparing for the next pandemic.” READ MORE

3/7/22: Celebrating Women Who Fight for What Counts (The Global Fund)

“The Global Fund partnership has saved 44 million lives and cut the combined death rate from the three diseases by 40%. Much of this success is due to the tireless efforts of women. Around the world, the work of the Global Fund is mainly led by women – they are on the front lines identifying and fighting disease outbreaks, providing vital health services, ensuring essential supplies reach those most in need, advocating for equal access to health care and ensuring communities are prepared for future health threats…. Decades of experience in fighting HIV, TB and malaria prepared many low- and middle-income countries in the Global Fund partnership to quickly respond to COVID-19, using the same laboratories, disease surveillance, community networks, trained health workers and supply chains that were already in place to fight HIV, TB and malaria.” READ MORE

3/4/22: The Pandemic Is Following a Very Predictable and Depressing Pattern (The Atlantic)

“Americans, by and large, are putting the pandemic behind them. Now that Omicron is in the rearview mirror and cases are plummeting, even many of those who have stayed cautious for two full years are spouting narratives about ‘going back to normal’ and ‘living with COVID-19.’…

The rush in the rich countries to declare the pandemic ‘over’ while it continues to ravage the global South is completely predictable—in fact, the same trend has played out again and again. Infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV that are now seen as ‘Third World diseases’ were once serious threats in rich countries, but when incidence of these diseases began to decline there, the global North moved on and reduced investments in new tools and programs. Now, with COVID-19, the developing world has once again been left to fend for itself against an extremely transmissible virus without the necessary vaccine doses, tests, and treatment tools. Some pandemics never truly end—they just become invisible to people in the global North.” READ MORE

3/3/22: Preparing for the Next Pandemic (UN Development Program)

“Although pandemics are a fact of human life, the world was blindsided by the impact and devastation of COVID-19. What we do now could make this pandemic the last of its kind. In the two years since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, we could not have envisioned how completely it would invade every aspect of our lives…. COVID-19 took advantage of years of underinvestment in health issues such as non-communicable diseases and mental health, and lack of universal health coverage. We also lost precious ground on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. At the same time, we have seen how prior investments can be repurposed, in the crucial mobilization and reallocation of resources to COVID-19 from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the US President’s Emergency Relief Plan for HIV/AIDS.” READ MORE

3/3/22: We Must Use Lessons Learned from Tackling COVID-19 to Fight Tuberculosis (The European Sting)

“However, the good news is that technological innovations and other lessons learned in the fight against COVID-19 can be used as a source of insights in tackling TB, regaining lost ground and pushing to end the globally tuberculosis scourge. Technology in health refers to healthcare practices supported by electronic processes and includes technologies such as electronic health records, patient administration systems, and laboratory systems which can be managed using mobile health applications. Innovation and technology have a pivotal role to play in the fight against TB, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the use of these tools must also take into consideration the complexity of health systems and the interplay of diverse factors, especially in emerging countries where there is still a high incidence rate.” READ MORE

3/1/22: Fears of Medical Shortages and Disease in Ukraine After Russian Invasion (Reuters)

“The U.N. agency for HIV/AIDS has said there is less than a month’s worth of drugs for HIV patients left in Ukraine. ‘People living with HIV in Ukraine only have a few weeks of antiretroviral therapy remaining with them, and without continuous access their lives are at risk,’ said UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. Before Russia’s invasion began, Ukraine had 250,000 people living with HIV, the second largest number in Europe after Russia. It also had high rates of tuberculosis, including one of the highest rates of multi-drug resistant TB in the world. There are an estimated 30,000 new TB cases annually in Ukraine. Ukraine’s government and the Stop TB Partnership, an international initiative, said on Monday all TB clinics in the country remained open, but patients had been given a month-long supply of drugs to take away with them in case the situation worsened or it was dangerous to travel to clinic.” READ MORE

2/28/22: Accelerating Research and Development of New Vaccines Against Tuberculosis: A Global Roadmap (The Lancet)

“To eliminate tuberculosis globally, a new, effective, and affordable vaccine is urgently needed, particularly for use in adults and adolescents in low-income and middle-income countries. We have created a roadmap that lists the actions needed to accelerate tuberculosis vaccine research and development using a participatory process. The vaccine pipeline needs more diverse immunological approaches, antigens, and platforms. Clinical development can be accelerated by validated preclinical models, agreed laboratory correlates of protection, efficient trial designs, and validated endpoints…. There is a need for increased engagement of industry vaccine developers, for increased political commitment for new tuberculosis vaccines, and to address stigma and vaccine hesitancy. The unprecedented speed by which COVID-19 vaccines have been developed and introduced provides important insight for tuberculosis vaccine research and development.” READ MORE

2/27/22: Like COVID-19, TB is a Pandemic and Must be Treated as an Emergency (The Conversation)

“Within two weeks of declaring COVID-19 a global emergency, the WHO had convened a meeting of experts and issued a research roadmap. National governments rapidly committed vast sums of money into research at all levels, from basic virology and immunology to clinical care and prevention. Pharmaceutical companies launched development programmes for new products to diagnose, treat and prevent COVID-19…. TB, on the other hand, has not been treated as a true emergency. Yet its worldwide distribution, impact on health, and mortality burden was just as dire. TB incidence remains plateaued at 10 million cases per year. In 2020 case detection fell by almost 20% and mortality rose for the first time in a decade to 1.5 million deaths. These setbacks are directly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

2/25/22: Are Efforts for HIV Prevention Waning? (The New Times)

“Activists and experts say there is need to do more as far as HIV prevention is concerned, even as Rwanda has made strides in the fight against the disease. As antiretroviral treatment (ART) of HIV/Aids has become increasingly accessible, experts fear that some people are losing the sense of vigilance in regard to prevention, yet the disease is still a health concern that has neither cure nor vaccine…. He noted that though the Covid-19 pandemic has hindered some of their outreach sensitization campaigns, they have turned to other channels to communicate preventive messages to Rwandans via means like the radio, billboards, among others. ‘We are still reminding people that the disease is still around, it has gone nowhere. It neither has cure nor vaccine, so it is still a threat,’” READ MORE

2/24/22: Can We Stop COVID-19 from Becoming the Next Tuberculosis? (Biocentury)

“The ongoing inequitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 risks relegating it to a disease of poverty like tuberculosis. The hoarding of essential tools by wealthy countries will inevitably extend the pandemic leading to more devastation in high- and low-income countries alike. By acting now, the world can prevent this outcome for COVID-19 while also making conditions better to tackle TB…. In less than a year, pharmaceutical companies were able to develop vaccines to address the COVID-19 pandemic, followed shortly thereafter by novel therapeutics. Antigen rapid diagnostic tests, necessary for detection of the pathogen and to stem the spread of disease, were developed within eight months of the initial outbreak. However, these tools, along with protective equipment, have been monopolized by high-income countries, leaving low- and middle-countries (LMICs) that are unable to afford them without the essential supplies they need to contain the pandemic.” READ MORE

2/24/22: Let’s Raise Contributions To The Global Fund, President Kenyatta Urges Governments (African Business)

“Noting that the replenishment cycle comes at a time when economies are battling Covid-19, President Kenyatta emphasized the need for global solidarity in the fight against the world’s health challenges. ‘It is clear that increased investment in strong community and health systems is needed now more than ever before, if we are to tackle both prevailing and emerging diseases,’ he said. At the same time, the President commended the Global Fund for supporting Kenya’s efforts to combat HIV, TB and malaria pointing out that from 2002 to date, the Global Fund had disbursed over US$1.4 billion in grants to Kenya’s health sector. ‘These grants have supplemented Government’s efforts to address the three diseases of global concern, while at the same time strengthening our health service delivery, infrastructure and community systems,’ President Kenyatta said.” READ MORE

2/23/22: Increase Funding or Abandon Hope of Ending Malaria, TB and AIDS, UK Warned (The Guardian)

Britain is being urged to pledge billions of dollars to get the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and Aids “back on track” after efforts were ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK has historically been one of the main donors to the Global Fund, an international financing organisation aimed at ending the three deadly epidemics by 2030. Now it is warning that, unless donors make an unprecedented total funding pledge of $18bn (£13.25bn) this year, that goal will be missed. ‘In the face of the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, the choice is stark: we either increase funding, or we abandon hope of finally defeating these epidemics by 2030,’ said Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund.” READ MORE

2/22/22: Fund tackling AIDS, TB, Malaria Seeks $18 billion to Reverse COVID-19 Disruptions (Reuters)

“At least $18 billion is needed to get the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS back on track from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health fund said on Wednesday. The target for 2024-2026 is $4 billion more than the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria raised in its previous fund raising session in 2019. The $18 billion aims to reverse setbacks in its global efforts on disease testing, prevention and treatment caused by the pandemic, the Geneva-based aid body said. In September, the fund’s annual report for 2020 showed that the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis in the countries where it operates fell by 19% and HIV prevention programs declined by 11%.” READ MORE

2/21/22: Carolyn’s Fight: Ending HIV and Gender-Based Violence (The Global Fund)

“When COVID-19 hit Carolyne’s community, public gatherings, including adolescent support groups, were suspended. Schools were closed for a year, there was a curfew and many people were scared to visit health facilities for fear of contracting the new virus. Globally, lockdown measures and school closures have been particularly dangerous for adolescent girls and young women, who have faced increased risks of domestic and gender-based violence when out of school and confined to their homes. COVID-19 created a number of new challenges for Carolyne and her colleagues, but the peer educator network was able to adapt quickly to continue to provide essential services. This included door-to-door client visits where Carolyne would deliver ARVs to young people facing challenges with their treatment or who were unable to get to the health facility, provide support, counseling and check-in visits, and respond to suspected cases of violence.” READ MORE

2/18/22: ‘Phantom Plague’ Review: Tuberculosis Past, and Future (The Wall Street Journal)

“There has been hard-won progress against TB over the last two decades, with substantial decline in total mortality due to the disease. Still, recent progress has fallen short of World Health Organization goals. Now Covid-19 has reversed recent gains. TB remains a global plague in the here and now, and we are not on track to win in the foreseeable future. To make matters worse, drug-resistant forms of TB can be actively transmitted (that is, resistant strains do not just develop in patients who are struggling with a brutal pharmaceutical regimen of toxic pills), and infections caused by these nastier breeds are rising. Meanwhile, drug discovery is hard, slow, risky and expensive. The specter of a future in which the effectiveness of our limited antibiotic arsenal continues to decline is terrifying. TB is a scandal today, and it may be a catastrophe tomorrow” READ MORE

2/18/22: Europe is Throwing its Weight Behind Africa’s mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Push—Except on One Key Point (Fortune)

“For now, mRNA vaccines are only available for COVID-19, but there is great hope that the technology will also lead to new vaccines for tuberculosis and malaria—and perhaps HIV and cancer too…. The EU may be putting a lot of money into African vaccines, but it is also blocking a proposal—originally made by South Africa and India—for a temporary waiver of the TRIPS Agreement, the global intellectual-property rulebook, regarding COVID vaccines. Everyone from the U.S. to China backs the TRIPS waiver, which would force vaccine makers to share their know-how to manufacturers that could then produce generic versions, but not Europe. And, while he welcomed the latest development, Ramaphosa used his turn at Friday’s mRNA hub press conference to drive home the implications.” READ MORE

2/17/22: How the Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal Partnership with BioNTech Will Produce COVID-19, TB and Malaria Vaccines (Business Ghana)

“Ghana, Rwanda and Senegal are partnering with German biotechnology company, BioNTech SE, to fill, finish, and package BioNTech mRNA vaccines in Africa, as a first step in the chain of domestic vaccine production which will help improve vaccine supply in Africa…. The BioNTainer will be equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based approved or authorized vaccines targeted to the needs of people in African Union member states, like BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, and its malaria and tuberculosis vaccines, if they are successfully developed and approved. The first BioNTainer is expected to be shipped to the African Union in mid-2022. BioNTech expects to ship BioNTainers to Rwanda and Senegal in close alignment with the respective country and the African Union.” READ MORE

2/17/22: Drug-resistant TB: Rollout of Shorter Regimen Hits a Snag (Health News)

“‘Implementing the drug-resistant programme in conjunction with the Department of Health takes time, we have to do it slowly and carefully. However, we have done it much faster than any other country in the world. When change occurs within a TB programme, it takes a while,’ added Conradie. Conradie also stated that the delay might be due to the decrease in the number of people being diagnosed with TB. This could possibly stem from a reduced number of screenings during the COVID-19 lockdown. ‘The number of TB patients being diagnosed has dropped because of COVID-19. So, there has been a widening gap because people didn’t access services during the hard lockdown and they’ve been reluctant to resume services or treatment. But, our screening programme is starting to get back on track,’ she said.” READ MORE

2/16/22: The Road Ahead for Africa’s Vaccine Manufacturing Sector (Devex)

“Terblanche said not receiving a tech transfer is “a blessing in disguise,” as it allowed their scientists to innovate and learn the “basic building blocks” that would help them develop other mRNA-based vaccines…. ‘If Moderna had come to us right at the beginning and said, ‘here is our vaccine, here’s how to make it,’ Afrigen would know how to make Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Fantastic. However, not necessarily hugely helpful for the future in how to use the mRNA platform, for example, to make an HIV vaccine, or to make a TB vaccine — something that will ensure that this is a sustainable program. And furthermore, also to be ready for the next pandemic,’ he said. ‘We are perhaps losing a bit of time upfront, but potentially gaining a lot of experience that will be really useful further downstream,’ he added.” READ MORE

2/14/22: Vaccine Makers Must Help the World Prepare for the Next Pandemic (Bloomberg)

“A South African biotech company has recreated small quantities of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. Its achievement, done in partnership with the World Health Organization, is part of a broader plan to help low- and middle-income countries become less reliant on U.S. and European drugmakers, which have been slow to send their vaccines. The WHO is investing $100 million over five years to develop an mRNA hub in South Africa, with expertise centered at Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines. Afrigen is expected to share the know-how it develops with other countries eager to establish their own vaccine infrastructure. Brazil and Argentina are next in line. This ambitious plan could set up countries to better respond to future pandemics — as well as ongoing scourges such as malaria and tuberculosis. It’s also exactly the kind of program that might lose steam once the Covid threat becomes less acute and global attention shifts elsewhere.” READ MORE


2/13/22: Before COVID-19, TB was the World’s Worst Pathogen. It’s Still a ‘Monster’ Killer (NPR)

“Until the emergence of COVID-19, tuberculosis was the deadliest infectious disease in the world. How did it evolve from a terrible disease to a largely controlled one to the horrific plague it is now?… The answer, she finds, has a lot to do with lack of treatment, overtreatment or the wrong treatment. When antibiotics became widely available in the 20th century, the West had the resources to pay for them and cure and control TB. Poorer countries didn’t. And when antibiotics didbecome available in lower-income nations, they were often overused. With antibiotic overuse came antibiotic resistance as pathogens learned to fight off the cures. The result is what Krishnan calls a ‘monster’ version of the disease known as multidrug-resistant TB.” READ MORE

2/4/22: Maia’s Story: Mobile App Transforms Drug-Resistant TB Treatment (The Global Fund)

“In Georgia, this work includes the roll-out of the AdhereTB mobile application – a video-supported treatment (VST) application developed by the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia, with support from the Global Fund – which Maia now uses. ‘This application helps because I can do the work I have at home – I can feed the animals and care for the kids. Without it, I would not even have the job I have now because I would not have the time for it,’ she says. Patients like Maia take their medication at home, record the process and upload videos that a nurse later reviews. Patients can also ask the nurse questions and report side effects in real-time. The application saves patients time and transportation costs, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it has helped reduce the number of people at health clinics while ensuring patients remain on treatment.” READ MORE

2/4/22: Swaziland: Tackling COVID-19 Vaccination Barriers in Hard-to-Reach Areas of Eswatini (All Africa)

“‘After seeing the increase in the number of people dying from COVID-19, I took the decision to vaccinate my entire family. We hitchhiked for about an hour to our nearest clinic, but when we got there, we were turned away as the clinic did not have any COVID vaccines,’ says Nonhlanhla Motsa, while waiting to get vaccinated at the mobile MSF vaccination site in the village of Mhlwahlweni. In a country fighting a dual HIV/TB epidemic, there is a lot of fear and stigma around COVID-19 and many people are hesitant to get vaccinated. In response, our teams have put in place health promotion activities to dispel myths about vaccines and provide correct information. Teams of rural health motivators go door-to-door in the community to share information about COVID-19 and encourage people to get vaccinated at the mobile vaccination sites.” READ MORE

2/3/22: African Scientists Race to Test COVID-19 Drugs but Face Major Hurdles (The Guardian Nigeria)

“Ndwandwe wants to encourage more African researchers to join clinical trials so that its citizens can have equitable access to promising therapies. Local trials can help researchers to identify pragmatic treatments. And they can address the specific needs of low-resource settings and contribute to better health outcomes, says Hellen Mnjalla, a clinical-trials manager at the Kenya Medical Research Institute–Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi. ‘COVID-19 is a new infectious disease, so we need to do clinical trials to understand how these interventions are going to work on African populations,’ adds Ndwandwe. Salim Abdool Karim hopes that the crisis will spur African scientists to build on some of the research infrastructure that had been set up to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. ‘The infrastructure is well developed in some countries like Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. But it’s less developed in others,’ he says.” READ MORE

2/3/22: Consultation Calls for the Global AIDS Response to Build on Emergency Adaptations to COVID-19, Tackle Structural Barrier and Ensure that Country Programmes Fully Recover from COVID-18 Disruptions and End AIDS (UNAIDS)

“As the Omicron variant surges through communities and health systems already stretched to the breaking point by two years of COVID-19, HIV programme managers and community representatives gathered virtually to review efforts to keep the AIDS response on track and propose ways to better overcome the challenges caused by two clashing pandemics. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health services worldwide, at different times and in different ways, and it continues to do so,’ UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, a.i., Eamonn Murphy said at the opening of the consultation. ‘But at the same time we’re hearing great successes. Stories and data of impressive resilience and programmatic rebound are increasingly being documented and researched.’” READ MORE

2/2/22: Considerations for Simultaneous Testing of COVID-19 and Tuberculosis in High-Burden Countries (The Lancet)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted tuberculosis control efforts and services, particularly in countries with a high burden of tuberculosis. Resources dedicated to identifying and treating tuberculosis have been diverted to the COVID-19 response, with direct effects on tuberculosis programmes. Similarly, measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission, such as lockdowns, have made it harder for people to access tuberculosis testing and care. As a result, 2020 saw a drastic decline in the global number of people who were newly diagnosed and treated for tuberculosis and an increase in deaths from tuberculosis for the first time in more than a decade. Simultaneous and integrated testing for COVID-19 and tuberculosis is an approach that could improve the detection of both diseases, help to close the gap in tuberculosis diagnosis left by the pandemic, and optimize the use of testing resources in resource-constrained settings.” READ MORE

1/30/22: More Women Than Men Had TB Amid Pandemic in Mumbai (The Indian Express)

“This sudden change in gender-wise infection rate has also surprised public health officials. During lockdown, due to restrictions on movement, family members had to spend their days in congested rooms along with TB patients. Many women facing low immunity due to anemia, repeated deliveries or undernourishment, contracted TB from the infected patients. Chest physician Dr Vikas Oswal, who practices in the M-East ward that covers Govandi, and is also attached to the civic-run Shatabdi Hospital, has seen a 20 per cent surge in TB infection among women last year. ‘During the lockdown, families were financially struggling… the in-take of nutritious food decreased especially among women. Many women already suffer from anemia, which further weakens their immunity. This made them easy targets of TB bacteria in congested chawls,’ said Oswal. ‘Generally, we get more number of male patients. This is a new trend that we are witnessing now,’ he added.” READ MORE

1/28/22: Fighting AIDS and COVID-19  Depend on a Firm Foundation  (The Hill)

“Twenty years ago, the world faced a devastating pandemic that was spreading rapidly around the world. Then, 5 million people were being infected with HIV and 3 million were dying from AIDS each year. In 2020, an estimated 1.5 million people were infected with HIV, and AIDS killed an estimated 680,000 people. This progress did more than save lives; it built the public health foundations that many countries now use to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. These foundations exist, in large part, because of historic U.S. leadership and investment in the global AIDS response over the last two decades. President George W. Bush pledged the first U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) in 2001. And nineteen years ago today, he launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in his 2003 State of the Union address.” READ MORE

1/25/22: A Pandemic of Inequity and Justice: How Should the World Response? (Forbes)

“The Omicron variant was circulating in the Netherlands for at least 11 days before it was identified in South Africa. South Africa’s superior level of pandemic preparedness is what has enabled the world to quickly react to this new threat. Instead of applauding South Africa, the world’s reaction was to slap discriminatory, racist travel bans, to shut out Southern African countries who paid a heavy price for identifying Omicron in such an expedient manner. This reaction reveals the underlying racism and inequality that has allowed this virus to be left unchecked on the African continent and illustrates how the imbalance of power inherent in global health. African countries, who have experience of fighting Ebola, TB, Malaria, HIV and polio successfully are using their technology and know-how to monitor the spread of the virus, but are rewarded with exclusion and red listing, an insult added to the injury of inequitable access to vaccines.” READ MORE

1/25/22: Tanzania: TB Patients Shun Clinics Over Covid-19 Fear (All Africa)

“SOME Tuberculosis patients have stopped attending clinics since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, something that endangers their lives and people surrounding them, it has been revealed. According to Dodoma Regional Immunizations and Vaccination Officer (RIVO), Francis Bujiku, the available reports show that some TB patients stopped scheduled clinics due to fear of being infected with Covid-19 and being stigmatised by the health staff…. Mr. Bujiku added that the fear among the TB patients was high during the outbreak of the pandemic due to several reasons, adding that in some occasions people failed to differentiate those diseases. ‘Most of them thought that Covid-19 is also transmitted by air like TB, so they fear to attend the clinic because they already harbor a bad experience with airborne diseases. But the truth is; Covid-19 is spread through saliva drops,’ he clarified.” READ MORE

1/25/22: Africa’s New Vaccine Plant Promises ‘Next Generation Vaccine Solutions’. What Does That Actually Mean? (Global Citizen)

“Africa has been struggling to access COVID-19 vaccines as a result of wealthy nations hoarding vaccines, and the refusal of pharmaceutical companies to share their technology and information with the continent, a move that could vastly improve Africa’s access to lifesaving doses…. Overall, NantAfrica promises to deliver the next generation of vaccine solutions, not just for COVID-19, but for other infectious diseases such as HIV and TB, as well as for cancer. How the company plans to do this is yet to be revealed, but it says it will be leveraging its partnerships with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the South African Medical Research Council, and some of South Africa’s universities to inspect, research, and come up with solutions for some of the world’s biggest infectious diseases.” READ MORE

1/24/22: Village Health Workers Stand at Center of COVID-19 Fight (Global Press Journal)

“More than 58,000 people had recovered from COVID-19 by the end of July with the help of home-based care, according to the Ministry of Health’s Department of Community Health. The country has registered more than 159,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 3,400 deaths. Nabukeera says health team members like herself play a crucial role in containing the coronavirus because community members trust them. ‘I get distressed calls from COVID patients,’ she says. ‘I know that I am the closest to them for relief, and it hurts when I cannot help. We need personal protective equipment. People are dying in their homes.’ In Uganda, where geographical access to health care facilities is limited to only 49% of households, health team members serve as the closest source of medical attention for many residents. They are the first responders not just for COVID-19 but also for malaria, HIV, tuberculosis and other illnesses and medical issues.” READ MORE

1/21/22: Endemic of Malaria Can Reinstate Global Health Security (Economic Times Healthworld)

“Three years into the unbridled COVID-19 pandemic has been a big wake-up call on the importance of epidemic preparedness. It has showcased the importance of a resilient and equitable health system and how health emergencies can disrupt and undermine progress against other infecyious diseases, particularly malaria. Globally, experts have been warning that the end of humanity’s oldest and deadliest disease, malaria, should be seen as a priority as it will free up substantial human and financial burden and would improve detection of other febrile illnesses, allowing for more rapid response and containment of potential future pandemics. Malaria shares 7 out of 10 symptoms with COVID-19, starting with fever. The efforts to achieve COVID-19 recovery, pandemic preparedness, and malaria elimination are likewise inextricable.” READ MORE

1/21/22: The Key to the Global COVID-19 Battle Is Fixing ‘The Last Mile’ (Forbes)

“A key reason for vaccines going unused is skepticism rooted in distrust of experts, institutions and government leaders. People don’t believe the extent of this crisis. A second hurdle in achieving high vaccination rates is the weak health infrastructure in poor nations. In Zambia, where vaccines are in stock, many healthcare resources are devoted to treating H.I.V., TB, malaria, cholera, etc. Covid-19 is not high on their list of priorities. Furthermore, even when people get their first shot, the infrastructure is such that simply reminding people to come in for a second dose is difficult. In Nigeria, one million Covid-19 vaccines expired at the end of 2021. Beyond vaccine hesitancy and skepticism contributing to poor uptake, Nigeria’s underfunded healthcare system lacks such basic supplies like cotton swabs. Its erratic power supply necessitates that vaccines need to be stored in refrigerators powered by expensive fuel generators.” READ MORE

1/20/22: COVID-19 Response in the Philippines (The Global Fund)

“The Philippines has been severely affected by COVID-19. According to latest WHO figures, as of 17 January 2022, the Philippines had recorded over 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over 52,700 deaths. Since March 2020, the country has taken strict measures to halt the spread of the virus, including lockdowns such as Enhanced Community Quarantines. The impact of COVID-19 has especially been significant on TB and HIV. In 2020, the National TB Control Program recorded a marked decrease in TB testing as well as notification for TB and drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). In 2021, COVID-19 cases surged again as the Delta variant spread.” READ MORE

1/20/22: COVID-19 Response in Thailand (The Global Fund)

“According to latest WHO figures, as of 17 January 2022, Thailand has recorded over 2.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over 21,800 deaths. Thailand was the first country outside of China to report a COVID-19 case. Stringent containment measures were introduced in March 2020, including the closure of international borders, lockdowns in major cities, and limits on movement between provinces.….The early success in controlling COVID-19 could not be sustained. Cases surged in the second half of 2021 as the Delta variant took hold across the region. Hospitals were overwhelmed and the otherwise strong health system in Thailand became stretched beyond capacity. The authorities reintroduced and expanded restrictions to slow the spread. These COVID-19 related restrictions impacted implementation of Global Fund grants in Thailand – including outreach, prevention and treatment services for transgender people, people who use drugs, sex workers, gay and men who have sex with men, and migrants.” READ MORE

1/20/22: TB Detection in Mumbai Improves in 2021 After Pandemic-Induced Setback in 2020 (The Indian Express)

“Bouncing back from the disruption the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic caused to Tuberculosis detection in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) succeeded in detecting 58,642 cases of the infectious disease in 2021, matching its pre-pandemic target and recording a 34 per cent increase over 2020. Detection of TB cases had fallen by nearly 28 per cent in 2020 with only 43,464 people identified with the illness as compared to 2019 when a total of 60,597 TB patients were detected in Mumbai. Doctors believe that due to the lockdown, relatives of TB patients were forced to stay in over-crowded rooms with them, leading to the spread of the infection. ‘TB is an airborne disease which spreads in clusters among the families in lockdown.’” READ MORE

1/19/22: How COVID-19 Gave African Countries the Opportunity to Improve Public Health (The Conversation)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has tested Africa’s public healthcare systems. It exposed weaknesses, gaps and inequalities – but also some potential solutions. The challenges presented by the pandemic are an opportunity for African health systems to move beyond their current limitations. Many have been pushed to develop innovative approaches. Africa has the highest burden of HIV in the world and yet relies on other regions to produce diagnostic tests. Just 1% of Africa’s vaccine needs are domestically produced. It’s similar for drugs to treat African high burden diseases. The lack of diagnostic capacity persists and the story of vaccine inequity is well described. African leaders have recognized the importance of a health sector manufacturing ecosystem. There is renewed commitment to develop a system to deliver 60% of the continent’s vaccine needs by 2040.” READ MORE

1/14/22: What Botswana Can Teach the World About Solving a Health Crisis (U.S. News)

“The Republic of Botswana has been in the news recently for being the first nation in the world to detect the omicron variant of COVID-19 – a testament to the rigor of the country’s virus sequencing efforts. While perhaps less visible, Botswana also made news recently for being the first country with a high HIV burden to effectively eliminate the mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Hitting this milestone means that this small nation with a large percentage of the population living with HIV (estimated to be 20%) can now look confidently at raising an AIDS-free generation. This is an extraordinary achievement, and we believe understanding how it was accomplished provides some insights that the developed world could take to heart as nations around the globe – developed and developing – grapple with the health disparities that have been laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic.” READ MORE

1/13/22: Africa Battles Vaccine Inequity, New Variants and HIV Simultaneously (U.S. News)

“It is widely known that COVID-19 poses a higher threat to immunocompromised people – and Africa, which accounts for almost two-thirds of the global total of new HIV infections, holds especially vulnerable populations, forcing the continent to combat two public health emergencies at once. Although the African continent’s HIV situation has improved in recent years, with HIV infections falling by 37% between 2000 and 2018, the pandemic has still taken a toll on those living with this widespread autoimmune disease…. This, coupled with the lack of vaccine access in Africa, makes it especially strenuous to combat these two ongoing illnesses. Currently, just under 10% of the continent is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and only seven countries – Seychelles, Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, Cabo Verde, Botswana and Rwanda – have reached the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 40% of each country’s population by December 2021.” READ MORE

1/13/22: Time for Africa to Future-Proof, Starting with COVID-19 (The Lancet)

“Persisting inequities are slowing progress towards global and national targets for the control of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. The same is true for the COVID-19 pandemic, with wealthier countries continuing to monopolise the global share of vaccines. Africa has been disproportionately affected by this vaccine nationalism. A WHO target of achieving full primary immunisation in 40% of the global population by the end of December, 2021, was reached in only seven African countries, with just under 9% of people on the continent being fully vaccinated by the end of 2021. The target of 70% global coverage of primary series immunisation by June, 2022, is a pipe dream. The inequity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution is prolonging the pandemic, facilitating the emergence of new variants with potential for immune evasion, increased disease severity, and global spread.” READ MORE

1/13/22: The Challenge of Ending Tuberculosis (The Manila Times)

“While the WHO has a vision of a TB-free world by ending the global epidemic by 2035, its 2021 report admits that progress is off-track. It is even worse in countries like the Philippines that are seriously lagging behind, no thanks to the prioritization of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ending the pandemic is rightly the priority but the TB fight should remain unabated. Pai, Kasaeva and Swaminathan in The New England Journal of Medicine advocated the establishment of ‘multisectoral collaborations involving personal, societal and health system interventions.’ This will require addressing ‘the social determinants of tuberculosis infection and mortality; reducing stigma and other barriers to seeking care; promoting the use of masks, improved ventilation and other airborne infection-control measures; and ensuring that health care workers have adequate personal protective equipment.’” READ MORE

1/13/22: Is Covax Finally Going to Vaccinate the World? (Vox)

“Despite the recent good news, it’s highly unlikely that Covax will enable the WHO to reach its goal of 70 percent global vaccination by mid-year. While supply constraints have eased, financing is still a challenge, as high-income countries have remained unwilling to share enough funds or resources for low- and middle-income countries to acquire or make the vaccines themselves. But there are also questions about how practical that 70 percent vaccination coverage threshold is — both for the rich nations meant to be funding Covax and the poorer countries meant to receive vaccines. Governments in lower-income countries with younger populations (who are less susceptible to hospitalization and death from Covid-19) are overwhelmed by many competing priorities, such as poverty, hunger, and other diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria.” READ MORE

1/12/22: Why Congress Must Fund At Least $17B to End the Global COVID-19 Pandemic Once and for All (Global Citizen)

“‘No investment in the fight against COVID-19 is more urgent and cost-effective now than an investment in getting the world vaccinated as quickly as possible’.… Failing to raise the needed resources would have catastrophic consequences. Already, 5.5 million people have died from the virus, and cases are surging around the world. Vaccinations and treatments for other deadly diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis have stalled amid the pandemic. In low-income countries, overwhelmed health care systems have struggled to provide care to people with routine illnesses and conditions. As a result, deaths among women and children have soared because they’re not able to receive medical attention for health issues beyond COVID-19. More than 163 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty, rates of hunger have skyrocketed, and billions of children have had their education disrupted.” READ MORE

1/11/22: Fighting Tuberculosis in South Asia Challenge in Pandemic Times (Anadolu Post)

“According to World Health Organization (WHO), world’s half of TB patients are found in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa. The Global Tuberculosis Report released in 2021, by the WHO also described India among the countries, recording the highest drop in TB case reports from 2019 to 2020. In March 2017, the Indian government had announced that TB in the country will be eliminated by 2025. Last month, the government informed the parliament that ‘the country has reduced the incidence of TB from 217 per 100,000 population in 2015 to 188 per 100,000 population in 2020.’ That corresponds to a decline of 13%. But, Behera said it would be a difficult task to achieve the target of the complete elimination of the disease by 2025. ‘Because of the increasing focus and diversion of resources to COVID-19, this target looks difficult,’ he said, adding that because of the pandemic the patients had not visited the hospitals.” READ MORE

1/7/22: Underfunded and Deadly Tuberculosis Needs its Own Bill Gates (IPS News)

“Global efforts to end tuberculosis (TB) are futile without dedicated investment in research into the debilitating disease that is killing 4000 people a day, Stop TB Partnership warns. ‘TB is a disease that is not a darling of donors and investors,’ Lucica Ditiu, the Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, told IPS in an interview from Geneva. ‘We do not have a Bill Gates that can support TB research, yet TB remains a disease of concern with deaths increasing for the first time in over a decade,’ she added. TB, a bacterial disease mainly affecting the lungs, has been around for over millennia and remains one of the top killer diseases globally. But it is preventable and curable with the right investment in diagnosis and treatment. Ditiu attributed the rise in TB incidents to several factors; many people diagnosed and on treatment for TB have defaulted owing to the disruption of health services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdown.” READ MORE

1/6/22: Immune Compromised a Key Target for Vaccination, Africa CDC Says (Bloomberg)

“Africa has to focus on getting COVID-19 shots into people’s arms, especially those who are immunosuppressed, if it’s to avoid the long-term spread of the disease, according to John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The continent of 1.3 billion people, which has only fully vaccinated 10% of its population against Covid, must reach at least 70% by the end of this year if Africa is to avoid this situation, he said. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to about 70% of the total number of people globally infected with HIV, which causes the immune disease AIDS. A study of an HIV positive 36-year-old woman in South Africa showed that the  Covid-19 virus stayed in her body for 216 days and mutated rapidly. South Africa alone has 8.2 million people infected with HIV, according to the national statistics agency. READ MORE

1/6/22: Malaria Elimination and Achieving SDG 3 by 2030 Amidst COVID-19 (The Economic Times)

“Two years into the pandemic, recovery remains uneven, and evidence suggests that progress made across many disease areas is reversing. Global malaria incidence went up by an estimated 14 million cases in 2020 compared to 2019, while treatment levels for tuberculosis dropped by 21% during the same period, and HIV testing levels by 41%. India, however, has made important gains, especially in malaria. Since 2001, India has achieved a reduction of over 91% in malaria morbidity and mortality as reported by the national programme. The latest 2021 World Malaria Report also revealed India to be the only country amongst the 11 WHO’s High Burden to High Impact initiative that saw reductions in malaria incidence. Such progress can be attributed to India’s commitment to malaria elimination even amid the pandemic, as we noted in our recent report on COVID-19 and malaria in Asia Pacific.” READ MORE

1/5/22: Will COVID-19 Trigger Crisis in 2022? (Phnom Penh Post)

“Since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment, financial instability, disruption to education, social isolation, domestic violence, fear of life-threatening disease and sudden loss of loved ones have become increasingly common. … There were 14 million more malaria cases in 2020 than in previous years and a 12 per cent increase in malaria deaths. The pandemic has reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis and for the first time in over a decade, TB deaths have increased in the 30 countries with highest burden of TB, according to the WHO’s 2021 Global TB report.” READ MORE

1/5/22: At Least 9 African Countries Set to Produce COVID-19 Vaccines, Africa’s CDC Chief Says (The World)

“I think it is important to know that we are dealing with two pandemics across the world. The HIV/AIDS pandemic and COVID-19 is a pandemic that has just emerged over the last two years. And very unfortunately, and very concerning, is the interaction of the two pandemics. We now know that people infected with HIV tend not to clear the virus, that is, the COVID-19 virus, appropriately, especially is they have not been fully treated – and that has the risk of creating variants. We don’t know what the trajectory for COVID-19 will look like in the coming years, but we know that HIV has been with us for 40 years and has killed almost 37 million people. Tremendous gains have been made in the fight against HIV, especially in Africa. But we should be mindful of what COVID-19 can do to erode the significant progress that we have made in achieving remarkable progress in controlling HIV/AIDS over the years.” READ MORE

1/4/22: Global Development Issues to Watch in the US Congress in 2022 (Devex)

“One line item to watch in the fiscal 2023 budget will be how much money the administration requests for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ahead of its replenishment later this year. The fiscal 2023 foreign affairs budget request is expected to look similar to the fiscal 2022 version, which included $58.5 billion for foreign aid. But one big question is whether the administration will also request supplemental emergency COVID-19 funding that could be included in the fiscal 2022 bill. In October, administration officials said supplemental funding received through previous funding bills had already been spent. Global health advocates are asking for $17 billion in a supplemental bill for the global COVID-19 response, though some of them say that number is likely too big. A smaller amount of funding may be approved, they said.” READ MORE

1/4/22: TB Epidemic ‘Could Flare in Near Future’ (SciDevNet)

“Roychowdhury believes that the COVID-19 vaccination strategy in India has been a game-changer in the country’s battle against the disease and possibly helped reduce ‘a wave to a ripple’. However, she warns that in 2022, rising cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis — due to interruptions to programmes to combat the disease as a result of COVID-19 — is a matter of ‘real concern’. Identification, isolation and treatment of TB patients must be achieved as completely as possible, says Roychowdhury. ‘Otherwise, it is another epidemic volcano waiting to erupt,’ she adds. She believes the Omicron variant will overshadow all previous variants given its rapid spread, but she is hopeful that the pandemic can end before the year 2022 does. In India, she expects COVID-19 booster doses to be rolled out for vulnerable populations within two months.” READ MORE

12/20/21: COVID-19 Response in Malawi (The Global Fund)

“According to latest WHO figures, as of 13 December 2021, Malawi has recorded over 62,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over 2,300 deaths since the first case was confirmed in April 2020. While a high proportion of cases have been seen in the urban centers of Lilongwe and Blantyre, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all parts of the country. A third COVID-19 wave over the summer of 2021 resulted in an increased demand for oxygen supplies at health facilities. This wave affected a higher number of younger people aged 18-35, compared to the first and second waves of July and December 2020…. Malawi is also using C19RM funding to adapt HIV, TB and malaria programs to ensure service delivery and access throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these adaptations include introducing mobile HIV services for underserved populations, dispensing HIV medicines for multiple months at a time, testing for both TB and COVID-19 simultaneously, increasing TB testing capacity, and strengthening community-led risk communication and monitoring activities.” READ MORE

12/20/21: COVID-19 Response in Peru (The Global Fund)

“Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Peru’s health system and economy, and has disrupted HIV and TB services. Peru is among the countries ranked highest in the world in terms of excess mortality per million people as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. Excess mortality refers to the number of deaths from all causes during a crisis beyond what would be expected under ‘normal’ conditions. Given that many COVID-19 deaths are not fully reported in many countries, excess mortality is often used as a more objective indicator of the COVID-19 death toll…. To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, part of these investments support interventions to bring people living with HIV who were lost to follow-up back to treatment. TB programs were supported too, through the use of mobile units (vans) and campaigns to find people with TB, and support for patients with multidrug-resistant TB to adhere to their treatment through a mobile application.” READ MORE

12/19/21: Can this COVID-19 PCR Testing Platform be a Game-Changer? (Mint)

“A key tool in the fight against the covid-19 pandemic is robust testing. The gold standard has been polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, testing, which enables the testing of genes (of humans or of infectious pathogens) from patient samples and can help detect multiple diseases, including covid-19. But a big hindrance has been the cost and complexity of testing platforms…. But TrueNat, which includes a portable machine and disposable cartridges, can test for more than 30 diseases and give results in under an hour. A single test, across diseases, costs less than ₹1,000 ($13) at point-of-care. It has got regulatory approval for tests for diseases such as tuberculosis, dengue, chikungunya, malaria, typhoid and scrub typhus, which are very common in parts of central and west India. The platform’s tuberculosis test, in fact, is approved by the World Health Organization and is being implemented in national health programmes across 10 countries.” READ MORE

12/16/21: Uganda Tests Drones to Speed up Delivery of HIV Medicine (Reuters)

“Uganda is delivering HIV medicine by drone in an archipelago in Lake Victoria, a pilot programme aiming to improve the transport of medical supplies for the country’s health system, which faces chronic shortages. The trial is funded by pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), and run by the government-run Infectious Diseases Institute. It delivers HIV drugs from a hospital to patients in rural hamlets in Kalangala, an 84-island-archipelago. Other African countries like Ghana and Rwanda are already using drones to improve healthcare delivery. If the trial is successful it may be adopted on a larger scale to help to improve delivery of drugs and medical supplies for Uganda’s public healthcare system, which faces under-staffing and shortages of basic medicines such as vaccines and other drugs as well as medical supplies…. The trial programme, which for now is delivering only antiretrovirals, will last until June, when it will be assessed. Parkes-Ratanshi said the team is also considering whether the drones could fly around samples for HIV, tuberculosis or COVID-19 testing.” READ MORE

12/15/21: Moderna to Begin Africa COVID-19 Vaccine Trial in HIV Patients (Bloomberg)

“Moderna Inc. will start a trial of its Covid-19 vaccine across eight African countries to determine its efficacy in people who are HIV positive. The study, which will include about 14,000 volunteers, will serve a dual purpose by also evaluating its effectiveness against the omicron coronavirus variant, according to a joint statement from the Covid-19 Prevention Network and the South African Medical Research Council. It ‘is the first to specifically evaluate the efficacy of a Covid-19 vaccine in people living with HIV, including those with poorly controlled infections,’ the groups said. ‘In addition to examining the efficacy of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines in people living with HIV, the study investigators seek to identify the optimal regimen for this population.’” READ MORE

12/15/21: Government Reveals Plans to Restore TB Services in South Africa (Daily Maverick)

“The Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa’s tuberculosis (TB) response early and hard. Between February and May last year, Covid-19 lockdowns resulted in a 59% decline in TB tests, and a 33% decline in the number of TB diagnoses in South Africa, according to data released last year by the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD). The declines are in line with global trends.  Provisional data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) from 84 countries indicates that an estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for tuberculosis (TB) in 2020 than in 2019 — a reduction of 21%. The organisation estimates that the Covid-19-related disruptions in access to TB care could cause an additional half a million TB deaths. According to study findings published in the Lancet, ‘in high-burden settings, deaths due to HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria over five years could increase by up to 10%, 20%, and 36%, respectively, compared with if there was no Covid-19 pandemic.’” READ MORE

12/10/21: International Human Rights Day: Overcoming Pandemics by Respecting Human Rights for All (UNAIDS)

“On International Human Rights Day, UNAIDS is calling for concrete action to prevent and respond to systemic human rights violations that create and exacerbate inequalities. ‘We live in one of the most unequal times in history,’ said the UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima. ‘What the HIV pandemic had already revealed, COVID-19 has again confirmed: crises and disasters are felt most strongly along the fault lines of society. Those who experience systemic discrimination and inequality are pushed further and further behind.’ Equality and non-discrimination are cornerstones of human rights. The Sustainable Development Goals made them a central element of the global development commitments that call on countries to reduce inequalities, including by removing the drivers of inequalities, such as discriminatory laws and policies.” READ MORE

12/9/21: After COVID-19 Vaccines, Experimental mRNA Shot for HIV Shows Promise in Animals (The Times of Israel)

“An experimental HIV vaccine based on mRNA — the same technology used in two highly successful COVID-19 vaccines — has shown promise in experiments in mice and monkeys, according to a study published Thursday in Nature Medicine. The research, which was carried out by scientists at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Moderna and other institutions, demonstrated that the vaccine was safe and prompted desired antibody and cellular immune responses against an HIV-like virus. ‘Despite nearly four decades of effort by the global research community, an effective vaccine to prevent HIV remains an elusive goal,’ said NIAID director and co-author Anthony Fauci, in a statement. ‘This experimental mRNA vaccine combines several features that may overcome shortcomings of other experimental HIV vaccines and thus represents a promising approach.’” READ MORE

12/9/21: TB Research in 2020 Reaches Only US$915 Million – Less than Half Investment Needed to End TB (Stop TB Partnership)

“A new report finds that global funding for tuberculosis (TB) research totaled US$915 million in 2020 – less than half the goal of US$2 billion set forth by participating country governments at the 2018 United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB. The findings released today by Treatment Action Group (TAG) and the Stop TB Partnership come at a time when worldwide TB deaths rose for the first time in a decade. The report – Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends, 2005–2020 – presents new data on 2020 funding for TB research and development (R&D) and analyzes trends in investment since 2005. While TB was surpassed by COVID-19 as the world’s deadliest infectious disease last year, the disease still kills around 1.5 million people annually. Despite the toll it takes around the world, TB funding has been flat since 2018, and in 2020 TB received less than 1% of the amount invested in COVID-19 R&D.” READ MORE

12/9/21: WHO and Global Fund Warn Inequalities Block Progress Towards Ending AIDS, TB and Malaria (The Global Fund)

“Inequities have been widely acknowledged as barriers to achieving global and national goals and targets in HIV, TB and malaria programs. However, the magnitude and extent of underlying health inequalities have remained poorly documented and understood. Until those inequalities are better identified, and their consequences better understood, it will be hard for programs to meet people’s real health needs. Now, for the first time, a new report from the World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria systematically assesses the global State of inequality: HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. The report represents an important step forward in understanding how inequalities are hindering the fight against the three diseases.” READ MORE

12/9/21: mRNA Technology Transfer Hub for Vaccines to be a Game-Changer (Devdiscourse)

“The African continent’s first messenger RNA (mRNA) technology transfer hub for COVID-19 vaccines will be a game-changer for the continent. ‘When outbreaks like COVID-19 happen, the whole world rallies around developing new technologies and vaccines. But we don’t know that we will have the same response if there is an outbreak that is only ravaging the African continent. So if we don’t build our own capabilities, then we will have a problem…. The good thing about this is that we are using the mRNA technology as a platform and from that platform, we also want to manufacture other vaccines. When we are done with COVID then we are also going to say how do we then go into flu, how do we maybe go into Tuberculosis, how do we maybe go into HIV and AIDS and all other problematic diseases. This technology then becomes some sort of scaffolding on the basis off which we build.’” READ MORE

12/6/21: COVID-19 Contributed to 69,000 Malaria Deaths WHO Finds, Though ‘Doomsday Scenario’ Averted (WHO)

“According to the analysis, moderate disruptions in the delivery of malaria services contributed to 14 million malaria cases and 69,000 deaths. Two thirds (or 47,000) of the additional malaria deaths, were due to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic. Early in the pandemic, WHO had projected a doubling of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, as a worst-case scenario. Yet, the analysis found there was an estimated 12 per cent increase in deaths in the region between 2019 and 2020. ‘The first message is a good news message. Thanks to urgent and strenuous efforts we can claim that the world has succeeded in averting the worst-case scenario of malaria deaths,’Dr Alonso said.” READ MORE

12/1/21: World AIDS Day 2021: Increase in TB Deaths Among People Living with HIV for the First Time in Over a Decade (Stop TB)

“Before 2020, TB deaths among people living with HIV were declining. In 2020, this decline was reversed due to the COVID-19 pandemic leading to reduced access to TB diagnosis and treatment services. Worldwide, TB remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. ‘Every day, close to 600 people living with HIV die from TB—yet most of these deaths could have been averted,’ said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership. ‘It is so upsetting to see that HIV prevention and treatment extends people’s lives, only to see one in three of them dying because of TB. At the moment, people living with HIV face a triple burden of disease, threatened not only by HIV itself but also by COVID-19 and TB. We might not be able to prevent all co-infections, but we definitely know how to prevent, and treat, TB. Still, TB funding remains pathetically low compared to other disease areas, and insufficient even for diagnosis and treatment.’” READ MORE

12/1/21: The Next Chapter of Our Fight Against HIV (The Global Fund)

“Pandemics exacerbate and thrive on inequity. They find the fissures in our societies and deepen them. As a result, the poorest and most marginalized always suffer the most. We have seen this with HIV and are seeing it again with COVID-19. Rich countries are starting booster vaccination campaigns while most people in poor countries go without even a first dose. But as we mark World AIDS Day, we must also acknowledge that inequities exist within countries as much as between countries. Since the first cases of AIDS were reported 40 years ago, the world has made huge progress in the fight against HIV. In countries where the Global Fund invests, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 65% since we were founded 20 years ago. Globally, more than 27.5 million HIV-positive people are on lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ARVs). Yet in many countries, persistent inequities have proved a formidable barrier to accelerating progress against the virus.” READ MORE

12/2/21: Community Health Workers Strengthen HIV and COVID-19 Responses (UNAIDS)

“In 2001, Micheline Léon felt unwell. The then 33-year-old mother of three journeyed from her home in the small town of Corporand in central Haiti to a clinic in Cange. There she was diagnosed with HIV and tuberculosis. Fortunately, three years earlier an organization called Zanmi Lasante—Haitian Creole for Partners in Health—had launched the HIV Equity Initiative….Twenty years later, Ms Léon is one of 2000 community health workers called accompagnateurs in the Zanmi Lasante network. Multiskilled teams of accompagnateurs are the link between patients and health facilities…. Community health workers live in the areas where they work. They help to ensure that patients recover and stay healthy. Their main roles include medicine distribution and home visits, as well as linking people to care. They accompany patients to clinics and track those who have missed appointments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the accompagnateurs were key to Zanmi Lasante’s care and treatment work. The home-based care and contact tracing skills refined in response to HIV are now being used for COVID-19.” READ MORE

12/1/21: It’s Time for Action on Inequality to End TB and AIDS (WHO)

“As we mark this year’s World AIDS Day and focus on ending inequalities, we need to remember that TB is a leading cause of death among people with HIV and the second most common cause of death from an infectious disease, after COVID-19. TB is driven by poverty and thrives on inequity, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable and marginalized. The COVID-19 pandemic is further fueling inequality by driving up poverty and malnutrition, both of which are major risk factors for TB. Access to essential services for TB has also been severely hampered due to COVID-19 related restrictions and the redirection of resources to the COVID-19 response.” READ MORE

12/1/21: World AIDS Day: Is the World Closer to an HIV Vaccine in the Face of COVID-19? (NBC News)

“As Covid-19 brought nearly every corner of the Earth to a halt early last year, researchers around the world scrambled to develop a vaccine to fend off the deadly respiratory coronavirus. And just several months later — in a process that normally takes years — several vaccines were ready for worldwide distribution. In comparison, about 40 years since the earliest reports of what became known as AIDS, scientists are still scratching their heads to develop a vaccine against the virus that causes the life-threatening disease — HIV. But as the anniversary of the first Covid-19 vaccine shots approaches, experts say the brisk development of the lifesaving and highly effective coronavirus vaccines may have brought researchers closer to cracking the code to develop an HIV vaccine.” READ MORE

12/1/21: Science and Equity Must Go Hand-in-Hand to End AIDS (Global Health Now)

“2022 will mark the COVID-19 pandemic’s third year. Since the early days of SARS-CoV-2, there have been calls to apply hard-won lessons learned from the fight against another global health crisis: HIV/AIDS. But what good are these lessons if we have yet to solve the very crisis we hope to learn from? Because 2022 will also mark the fifth decade of the AIDS pandemic, and we are losing ground. On this World AIDS Day, ending the inequalities that hinder access to lifesaving medicines and health technologies is critical to regaining what we’ve lost against a disease that has claimed more than 36 million lives and counting….In the case of both COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS, effective and quality preventative, diagnostic and therapeutic tools all exist—but equitable and affordable access remains elusive.” READ MORE

12/1/21: Africa: Tackle HIV and COVID-19 Together (Nature)

“As the world shifts gear in the COVID-19 pandemic — from tackling the immediate crisis to a long-term public-health response — we urge governments, health ministries, researchers and other stakeholders worldwide to devote more of their resources and attention to the interactions between COVID-19 and HIV. Various studies from before the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines show that people with HIV are 30–50% more likely to die from COVID-19. What’s more, a failure to tackle the pandemic with sufficient urgency in countries with high rates of uncontrolled advanced HIV could lead to the emergence of variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that spread more easily between people or render the vaccines less effective. Conversely, both diseases could be curbed more effectively if they are tackled simultaneously, with public-health responses strengthened by the lessons learnt from both.” READ MORE

11/29/21: World ‘Dangerously Unprepared’ for Future Pandemics Unless Leaders Tackle Inequalities, UNAIDS Warns (UN)

“’Progress against the AIDS pandemic, which was already off track, is now under even greater strain as the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage, disrupting HIV prevention and treatment services, schooling, violence-prevention programmes and more,’ Winnie Byanyima, 

UNAIDS Executive Director said. ‘We cannot be forced to choose between ending the AIDS pandemic today and preparing for the pandemics of tomorrow. The only successful approach will achieve both’. According to UNICEF, 2 in 5 children living with HIV worldwide, do not know their status, and just over half of children with HIV are receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART). ‘Unless we ramp up efforts to resolve the inequalities driving the HIV epidemic, which are now exacerbated by COVID-19, we may see more children infected with HIV and more children losing their fight against AIDS,’ Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director said.” READ MORE

11/29/21: Victories Against AIDS Have Lessons for COVID-19 (Nature)

“Medical advances mean that HIV/AIDS could, theoretically, now be taken off the table as a major health threat (in the United States and globally), particularly if programmes such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria continue to get robust support. Sadly, things are never that simple. Uptake of treatment remains suboptimal, in rich and poor communities. Reasons include lack of transport, substandard housing, mental-health issues, substance abuse, pill fatigue, drug toxicity, stigma and discrimination….A safe and effective HIV vaccine has been elusive so far, but even a moderately effective vaccine could, together with the rest of the toolkit, bring an end to AIDS as a major health concern. It’s likely that one could build on some of the tools and platforms used for COVID-19 vaccines, including messenger RNA and optimizing immunogens to prompt the most effective immune response.” READ MORE

11/27/21: Pascale Ondoa: Strengthening Laboratory Medicine in Africa (The Lancet)

“These barriers persist and COVID-19 has brought new challenges, with a switch of focus in Africa beyond HIV, tuberculosis, and other disease areas. ‘Many PCR laboratories have been repurposed to COVID-19 testing, but we have to be cautious, as HIV and TB remain the dominant drivers of chronic poor health in many African settings’, she warns. Ondoa directs ASLM’s collaboration with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) for the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. ‘The aim is to build a network of labs that can generate genomic intelligence such as circulation of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern to inform public health action’, she explains. And Ondoa believes that insufficient COVID-19 vaccine availability in Africa highlights the continent’s wider problem. ‘We do not have sufficient access to medical products, which ultimately prevents us from providing comprehensive diagnostic services for all, something that has to change’, she says.” READ MORE

11/23/21: A Tale of Two Pandemics: The True Cost of COVID in the Global South (The Guardian)

“Public-health experts predict that, as an indirect consequence of the Covid pandemic, twice as many people around the world could be at risk of dying from malaria. There could be 400,000 extra deaths from TB in the next few years, and half a million extra deaths from HIV. Across much of the world, in short, the response to the coronavirus has ushered in a shadow pandemic. The coronavirus’s real death toll, then, has to be calculated not just in deaths from Covid, but also in deaths that would otherwise have been prevented, from malaria, TB, HIV, diabetes and more. This shadow pandemic isn’t simply a story about disease – it’s about poverty, hunger, truncated education and stunted lives. A suggestive comparison can be made with the climate crisis. In the affluent world, some people think of climate breakdown as a matter of how long the air conditioning stays on, but for many in the developing world, it’s already a matter of floods, droughts and famine.” READ MORE

11/22/21: Research Suggests Malaria Exposure Could Reduce COVID-19 Severity (Devex)

“New research from Uganda and Mali suggests malaria exposure might lower the incidence of severe disease, hospitalization, and death for people exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The research findings, presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual meeting last week, found low levels of severe COVID-19 symptoms among people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in areas with high malaria burdens, leading researchers to hypothesize that previous malaria exposure could offer its survivors a shield against COVID-19…. ‘We went into this project thinking we would see a higher rate of negative outcomes in people with a history of malaria infections because that’s what was seen in patients co-infected with malaria and Ebola,’ wrote Achan in a press release. ‘We were actually quite surprised to see the opposite — that malaria may have a protective effect.’” READ MORE

11/18/21: Experts Urge Action on Antimicrobial Resistance (The New Times)

“‘Some people call Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) a silent pandemic. I call it an active volcano that is ongoing. Antimicrobial resistance is a natural phenomenon as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites try to change overtime and stop responding to antimicrobials (drugs that are used against disease-causing bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites,’ he said. He also noted that more people around the world have in recent times used antibiotics due to Covid-19, increasing the risk of abuse…. The AMR is making diseases like TB, HIV/Aids and malaria more difficult to treat or even incurable, experts say, citing the example of drug resistant malaria in Rwanda.”

11/18/21: HIV Services Are Bouncing Back From COVID-19 Disruptions, Data Suggest, but Recovery Is ‘Precarious’ (Medscape)

“Over the past 2 years, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous disruptions in healthcare, including in global HIV/AIDS services. But new data presented at the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) 2021 Annual Meeting suggest that practitioners quickly adapted to challenges posed by the pandemic, and care and prevention services around the world have begun to return to pre-pandemic levels…. Although there was concern that the pandemic could disrupt access to antiretrovirals, the Global Fund previously reported a nearly 9% increase in people receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) from 2019 to 2020. HIV prevention and testing did take a hit: There was a 22% decrease in testing for HIV and an 11% decline in the number of people receiving HIV prevention services over that period.” READ MORE

11/17/21: Stop TB head: TB Still the ‘Cinderella’ in Global Fund Disease Split (Devex)

“Tuberculosis is getting an additional allocation from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but the head of the Stop TB Partnership says the amount is still “disproportionately less” than the funding for HIV and malaria. ‘With more than 4 million people with TB missing care in 2020, a financial gap of USD 6 billion for TB interventions, and being the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is impossible for me to understand why the TB response remains the ‘Cinderella’ of the Global Fund resource allocation for the foreseeable future,’ Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, told Devex in an email. Next to COVID-19, TB is currently the second infectious disease killer, and for every person not diagnosed and treated for TB, 15 others will become infected with the disease yearly, she added.” READ MORE

11/14/21: ECOWAS Moves to Establish COVID-19, Malaria Vaccines Manufacturing Plants (The Guardian Nigeria)

“Arrangements are in top gear to establish a manufacturing plant for malaria and COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal. Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has said the vaccine rate in Africa is well below global average, due to inequity in distribution and called on ECOWAS member countries to work towards self-sufficiency in manufacturing pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Speaking at the ECOWAS Health Ministers’ conference, which ended yesterday in Abuja, Buhari urged ECOWAS member countries to work in solidarity and with a sense of purpose in their resolve to manage all phases of COVID-19 evolution. He said Africa must join in the research and development of new products, especially in genomic sequencing and also prepare both nationally and regionally for any eventual future pandemic or public health emergency that could occur.” READ MORE

11/12/21: Family Focus Shows Promise for TB Prevention (Spotlight)

“‘Due to COVID-19 we modified our post-exposure management and the modification included home visits and screening kids in their households. During home or clinic visits the basic assessment included clinical assessment and TB symptom screening for all and chest X-ray and Xpert MTB/RIF testing at the discretion of the clinician if there was a presumption of TB disease….Through this model and the post-exposure management protocol, there has been a drastic increase in case detection. The rate of co-prevalent TB detection via the post-exposure management programme was higher than that reported in the existing literature. Many pediatric cases go undetected in this population and Covid-19 has further exacerbated gaps in the cascade of care,’ she said, adding that not all children and adolescents’ contacts diagnosed with co-prevalent TB disease had symptoms of TB highlighting the poor sensitivity of the existing screening tools and the need for robust clinical evaluation.” READ MORE

11/11/21: Mira Bhayandar: MBMC Plans Door-to-Door Survey to Detect Cases of Tuberculosis (Free Press Journal)

“The health department of the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has geared up to conduct a fresh survey to detect patients with communicable diseases like tuberculosis (TB) across the twin-city. In case of diagnosis, free medical treatment will be provided by the health department. The detection of fresh tuberculosis patients had witnessed a significant drop during the lockdown period which was imposed to contain the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, thus necessitating the urgent need of intensified and targeted surveys to detect and diagnose patients of communicable diseases and swift treatment. The union health ministry aims to make the country TB free by the year 2025.” READ MORE

11/10/21: Global Fund Board Approves New Strategy Placing People and Communities at Center to Lead Fight Against HIV, TB, Malaria, to Build Systems for Health, Equity and Strengthen Pandemic Preparedness (The Global Fund)

“Pandemic preparedness is fundamentally a subset of resilient systems for health,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “And through our swift and rigorous COVID-19 Response Mechanism, we have already demonstrated our capacity to be a highly effective contributor to pandemic response.’ In a broad update to the Board, Sands stressed the devastating knock-on impact of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and malaria, with the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic weighing heavily on the poor and the marginalized. ‘These scars will take many years to heal,’ said Sands. ‘As a global community, we could and should be acting much more decisively and swiftly to save lives and bring this pandemic to an end. We have the tools — personal protective equipment, tests, treatments and vaccines — but we must move more rapidly to make them accessible and to deploy them effectively.’” READ MORE

11/10/21: Gearing Towards a TB Free Nigeria- WHO and Partners Scale Up Action (Africa News)

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has reaffirmed its commitment to support the country in eradicating Tuberculosis (TB), one of the top infectious killer diseases in the world…. Although Nigeria recorded a gain in its fight against TB in 2020, Nigeria ranks sixth among 30 TB High Burden countries in the world and has the highest burden in Africa. As such necessitates a continuous strategic intervention by the federal government, the WHO, and partners to reduce the burden of the disease in the country by 2030. In the quest to reduce the burden of the disease in Nigeria, Mr Chimbaru said ‘WHO has supported the government to develop guidelines, Standard Operating Procedures, adopt new strategies, regimen, and interventions in addition to building capacities and enhancing data analysis and use for optimizing performance.’” READ MORE

11/9/21: The World Wasn’t Prepared for This Pandemic. Bill Gates Says We Can Do Better (TIME)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has cost the global economy trillions of dollars. If the international community invested even a fraction of that money into things like disease surveillance, vaccine manufacturing and better medications, it would slash the chances of another, similar pandemic, philanthropist Bill Gates argued in a conversation with TIME. ‘We lost trillions of dollars because we weren’t prepared [for this pandemic]. For tens of billions of dollars … you can invest [in things like surveillance, vaccines and therapeutics] and make the chance of this happening again extremely low. It’s an incredible bargain that will protect rich people from pandemics, but also allow us in global health—where the inequities are so dramatic, still to this day, despite the progress we’ve made—to have tools for things like malaria eradication, TB, HIV.’” READ MORE

11/8/21: Maharashtra’s Tuberculosis, COVID-19 Coinfection 0.5&: Report (The Times of India)

“Despite screening every newly diagnosed tuberculosis (TB) patient for Covid, the TB-Covid coinfection rate has remained under 1% in Maharashtra…. The coinfection rate is very low compared to Covid infection rate among the general population, which at a minimum is up to 3%. Experts have, however, stressed on extensive studies to gauge TB patients’ exact vulnerability by expanding the Covid diagnosis. Currently, Tb patients are screened compulsorily for Covid, but only once. Despite TB being a chronic disease, the status of Covid infection is not captured periodically unless the patient exhibits worsening symptoms, experts have underlined. ‘When TB is a chronic disease, screening a patient only once would only lead to a misleading picture. A TB patient should be evaluated for Covid also during TB treatment when s/he shows symptoms.’” READ MORE

11/5/21: Impact Of Covid-19 Pandemic Extends To Tuberculosis And Neglected Tropical Diseases (Forbes)

“Last month, the WHO reported that for the first time in 15 years the number of people who have died from tuberculosis has increased…. And, while tuberculosis has also suffered from neglect, it belongs to the so-called “big three infectious diseases” – HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis,and malaria – which have generally received more media attention and research and development funding than the NTDs. The WHO had developed an NTD roadmap that was meant to officially launch in June 2020. The roadmap included specific disease targets to control and eliminate NTDs by 2030. Not only did the Covid-19 pandemic postpone the launch of the work plan, many NTD activities that had been ongoing were suspended to prevent the risk of additional transmission of the coronavirus. In fact, interruptions in NTD program work were experienced in at least 44% of low and middle income countries.” READ MORE

11/4/21: The Seven Steps South Africa is Taking to Get it Closer to Eliminating Malaria (The Conversation)

“There were dire warnings that malaria cases would surge across Africa after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic in early March 2020. Many felt that the already overburdened healthcare systems would not be able to cope with increased patient loads. There was also concern that the pandemic would disrupt the delivery of essential malaria services. Fortunately, these predictions have not fully materialised. Most malaria control programmes on the continent took action to keep delivering essential malaria services. The South African malaria control programme, for one, found ways to keep its efforts at stopping transmission on track despite the threat from COVID-19. For example, it set up systems to screen and test for COVID-19 and malaria in malaria-risk areas. It also modified the training for indoor residual spraying to comply with COVID-19 regulations.” READ MORE

11/3/21: COVID-19 Pandemic Could Lead to HIV Surge in West & Central Africa, Says UNAIDS Chief (Reuters)

“West and Central Africa could see a rise in HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in a few years due to disruptions in health services because of the coronavirus pandemic, the executive director of the U.N. AIDS agency said. Although human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection rates, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related deaths have been on a steady decline over the past decade, the region accounted for 22% of AIDS-related deaths in 2020. Around 200,000 people in West & Central Africa became newly infected with HIV last year out of a global total of 1.5 million, the United Nations AIDS agency’s (UNAIDS) data shows.” READ MORE

11/3/21: Summit Concludes with a Call for Action to Reinvent the Response to the HIV Pandemic and End AIDS in Western and Central Africa

“A three-day regional summit on HIV/AIDS held in Dakar, Senegal, has concluded with a call to action that urges stronger support for community-led responses, policies driven by science and data, increased investment in the HIV response and putting HIV at the centre of pandemic preparedness and response. In his closing remarks, the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, committed to advancing the call to action with the African Union and pledged additional funds to implement it in Senegal and across the region.  Western and Central Africa is home to 4.7 million people living with HIV—12% of those living with HIV globally—but experiences 22% of all HIV deaths in the world.” READ MORE

10/31/21: Five questions about the HIV response in the Gambia (UNAIDS)

“Similar to other western African countries, the Gambia has a low but highly concentrated HIV epidemic, affecting heavily key populations such as men who have sex with men and female sex workers. While impressive progress towards reducing new adult and paediatric infections have been observed in recent years, COVID-19 has caused a lot of complications. Repurposing HIV medical equipment and health personnel to address the fast-rising epidemic was necessary to limit COVID-19 related deaths. It also came with a cost—reducing the capacity to deliver HIV prevention and treatment services. Lessons must be learned from the dual HIV/COVID-19 epidemics. Effort must be invested in better prevention services, especially tailored to key populations. Health personnel must be better trained and better supported to manage their workload and prevent bottlenecks.” READ MORE

10/31/21: Building Political Action: Role of Policymakers to Address Tuberculosis (The Economic Times: Healthworld)

“The disease of tuberculosis is widespread and impacts millions of individuals across the world. India has the highest burden of tuberculosis, and it is the most infectious killer. In 2020, as per the data provided by the Union Health Ministry in Lok Sabha, India reported 1.8 million TB cases. The issues of TB has only been made more challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, as there was a negative impact on detection of cases, diagnosis and treatment….To ensure a holistic response, along with developing and adapting policies to real-time changes, we must introduce inclusive and person-centered, stigma-free, need-based psychosocial interventions along with clinical interventions to reach all parts of the society especially for those who need it the most.” READ MORE

10/28/21: COVID-19: Africa Looks to Kickstart Vaccine Production (Frontline)

“According to BioNTech, a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Rwandan government and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal. “We will work together to build a regional production network to support access to African-produced vaccines for Africa,” BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin announced on October 26. A production line with the capacity to produce 50 million COVID vaccine doses per year is currently in the works. The goal, Sahin said, is to develop vaccines with African Union member states and secure sustainable vaccine production capacities which will also improve overall medical care in Africa. That could mean vaccines against other diseases such as malaria, could also be produced. Following Moderna’s announcement a week earlier, John Nkengasong, director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), welcomed the news, saying that less than 5 per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” READ MORE

10/28/21: The Next Big One: Drug-Resistant Airborne Tuberculosis (Forbes)

“Specifically, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis remains a public health crisis and a health security threat. Only about one in three people with drug-resistant tuberculosis accessed treatment in 2020 and from 2018 to 2019, the rate of drug-resistant tuberculosis infections increased by approximately 10%. We need to seriously reevaluate the way we diagnose and screen for tuberculosis. The Covid pandemic disrupted access to health care and supply chains around the globe. Lockdowns often prevented people from accessing care and in many countries, human, financial, and other resources were diverted from tuberculosis to the Covid-19 response. As a result, 5.8 million people were diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2020, yet a WHO report estimates that about 10 million people were infected and more than 1.5 million died from tuberculosis, the first increase in a decade.” READ MORE

10/28/21: Malaria: An Interview with the World Health Organization (News Medical)

“We are actually very grateful to all the countries in Africa for preventing a catastrophe that we thought would happen with COVID-19. Yes, COVID-19 negatively impacted the delivery of routine health services, especially the first six months. After that, countries adapted, countries took precautions, and countries reopened the delivery of routine health services, including malaria interventions. We were able to support countries in doing this…. Health workers delivered especially in vector control interventions like nets, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was an extraordinary achievement, and we congratulate everybody for that in all malaria-endemic communities, districts, and nations.” READ MORE

10/27/21: WHO Meet: SE Asia Health Ministers Seek to End TB (Economic Times)

“The health ministers of countries in WHO South-East Asia Region on Tuesday said they are committed to renew and accelerate efforts to end tuberculosis, in view of the pandemic disrupting services and leading to an increase in TB cases in the already high-burden region. The ministers agreed to increase budgetary and human resource allocations including upfront investments required to catch up on lost ground during the Covid-19 pandemic. An estimated $3 billion may be needed annually to implement a comprehensive set of interventions to end TB in the region.” READ MORE

10/27/21: Reinvigorate Efforts to End Tuberculosis in SE Asia and Beyond (Phnom Pehn Post)

“The year 2020 marked a watershed in global efforts to end tuberculosis by 2030. First, because by 2020 TB-affected countries aimed to achieve the first set of End TB milestones – a 35 per cent reduction in TB deaths, a 20 per cent reduction in TB incidence, and zero catastrophic costs for TB-affected families. And second, because throughout 2020 and into 2021, the direct and indirect impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic challenged health systems and TB programmes like never before…. The social and economic impact of the pandemic has been immense. Tens of millions of people have been pushed into extreme poverty. Undernutrition – a key driver of TB morbidity and mortality – has been greatly exacerbated. WHO modelling suggests that these and other gaps could result in a level of global mortality last seen in 2012, leading to an additional 1.4 million TB deaths by 2025.” READ MORE

10/25/21: The Quest to End the COVID-19 and HIV Pandemics (UNAIDS)

“Today, we are witnessing COVID-19’s collision with a 40-year-old HIV pandemic that has claimed 37 million lives globally. At the same time, most of the developing world is still grappling with recurring and emerging disease outbreaks that have disrupted lives and left long-lasting scars. In some regions these health emergencies have become endemic, driven by interlinked vulnerabilities, disparities and inequalities. From 24 to 26 October, nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, global health leaders across sectors will gather in Berlin, Germany, for the World Health Summit. How do we leverage this moment? What lessons can we draw from responding to COVID-19, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, Ebola and other health emergencies? And how can we enhance systems for health around the world and build a global health architecture that serves us all, leaving no one behind?” READ MORE

10/25/21: This Partnership is Saving Millions of Lives Through Tackling AIDS, TB Malaria & COVID-19. But How? (Global Citizen)

“‘The Global Fund fights injustice which fuels infectious diseases,’ the Global Fund’s Executive Director, Peter Sands, told Global Citizen. ‘We are the biggest organization fighting the deadliest infectious diseases – HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria, and now COVID-19 – at scale, worldwide. We should protect everyone, everywhere, from the deadliest infectious diseases, those we face today, and those we will inevitably face tomorrow,’ added Sands. Pre-pandemic, fighting infectious disease was already a significant challenge, but since 2004, deaths from infectious diseases have dropped by half. Today, the pandemic has almost stalled the life-saving programs, disrupting the delivery of health services and threatening to reverse this hard-won progress. A rapid and decisive COVID-19 response by the Global Fund partnership is working hard to meet these shortfalls, leveraging global partnerships to protect health workers and ensure communities are prepared for this pandemic and the next.” READ MORE

10/22/21: TB Deaths on a Seven-year High as Case Notifications and Outpatient Visits Dipped in 2020 (The Hindu)

“As many as 1.3 million fewer cases of tuberculosis were detected in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the WHO. The drop in cases can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic as there was reduced access to disease diagnosis and treatment as well as curtailed spending since the infection outbreak. This reversed the gains made over the past few years in detection of TB cases. Following a drop in detection of new cases, deaths attributed to TB rose for the first time in the last 16 years in the world. The estimated TB deaths in India were the highest in seven years in 2020. Visits for treatment also fell sharply. Worryingly, among high-burden nations, India spent the least on TB drugs per patient despite accounting for an estimated 28% of the new cases last year.” READ MORE

10/19/21: Tuberculosis, Like COVID, Spreads by Breathing, Scientists Report (New York Times)

“As the Covid pandemic disrupted access to health care and supply chains around the globe, 5.8 million people were diagnosed with TB in 2020. But the W.H.O. estimates that about 10 million people were infected. Many may unwittingly be spreading the disease to others. ‘Our model would suggest that, actually, aerosol generation and TB generation can happen independent of symptoms,’ said Ryan Dinkele, a graduate student at the University of Cape Town who presented the results. The finding helps explain why tightly packed indoor spaces, like prisons, often are breeding grounds for TB, as they are for Covid. And the research suggests that some of the methods used to limit coronavirus transmission — masks, open windows or doors, and being outdoors as much as possible — are important in curtailing TB.” READ MORE

10/19/21: Battle to Maintain Services (Global Times)

“‘Although COVID-19 brought some disruptions to HIV services, particularly in testing and prevention, the global HIV response again demonstrated its resilience,’ she said. Even as COVID-19 strained health services and made access more difficult, the Global Fund said it recorded a 8.8 percent year-on-year increase in 2020, to 21.9 million, in the number of people receiving HIV treatment in the nations where it grants resources. An estimated 37.7 million people are living with HIV worldwide, some 84 percent of whom have been diagnosed. Some 27.5 million people are receiving the antiretroviral treatment that can increase the lifespan of someone with HIV to near normal. In South Africa, where approximately 19 percent of people aged 15 to 49 have HIV, healthcare workers said efforts to piggyback off existing innovations, such as the minibus clinic, have helped them tackle obstacles caused by COVID-19.” READ MORE

10/19/21: TB Progress ‘Unravelling’ Due to COVID-19, WHO Warns (SciDevNet)

“Urgent measures are needed to improve access to tuberculosis care, health experts have warned after a global report found that COVID-19 has wiped out years of progress in tackling the curable disease. Deaths from TB have increased globally for the first time in more than a decade according to the World Health Organization’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2021, rising to 1.5 million in 2020 from 1.4 million in 2019. Mel Spigelman, president and chief executive officer of the TB Alliance, said it was time for countries to honour their pledges on TB. ‘We have seen a number of highly promising breakthroughs in tuberculosis drug development over the past few years, but the promise of new treatments must be accompanied by equitable and universal access,’ he said.” READ MORE

10/15/21: Using Malaria Resources to Strengthen Health Systems in Burkina Faso (Devex)

“If malaria can be tackled and funds shifted elsewhere, it could help fill in existing gaps for HIV and tuberculosis, and contribute to building an adequate health workforce, said The Global Fund’s Pedrosa. ‘Resilient and sustainable systems for health are necessary for accelerating progress toward universal health coverage, and they help countries fight new pandemics like COVID-19 and prepare for emerging threats to global health security,’ she said. The approval of this latest vaccine could reduce the number of severe malaria cases by a third, said Tinto, freeing up resources for other areas. For example, once malaria is dealt with, money should go to helping researchers develop simple, affordable point of care tests, for a range of other conditions and diseases such as dengue fever, said Tinto. ‘We have limited resources and we have to choose some priorities,’ he said. ‘Malaria hides all other problems for the time being.’” READ MORE

10/14/21: Tuberculosis Deaths Rise for the First Time in More than a Decade Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic (WHO)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis and for the first time in over a decade, TB deaths have increased, according to the World Health Organization’s 2021 Global TB report. In 2020, more people died from TB, with far fewer people being diagnosed and treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared with 2019, and overall spending on essential TB services falling. The first challenge is disruption in access to TB services and a reduction in resources. In many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from tackling TB to the COVID-19 response, limiting the availability of essential services. The second is that people have struggled to seek care in the context of lockdowns.” READ MORE

10/14/21: Tuberculosis Deaths are Rising Again as Covid Pandemic Unravels Years of Progress (Forbes)

“Global deaths from tuberculosis increased for the first time in over a decade in 2020 as Covid-19 interrupted care and as limited funds and resources were diverted to fight the pandemic, according to a World Health Organization report published Thursday, underscoring the devastating knock-on impact the pandemic is having on our health and the fight against other deadly diseases…. Tedros said the ‘report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could start to unravel years of progress against tuberculosis.’ It’s not just progress fighting TB that experts fear will be erased by the pandemic and many of the disruptions to services disproportionately affect those living in poorer nations with less developed healthcare systems.” READ MORE

10/14/21: Has COVID-19 Protocol Led to Fall in TB Cases in TN? (The New India Express)

Has Covid-19 appropriate behaviour like wearing face masks and observing social distancing also helped bring down Tuberculosis (TB) cases in the State? Data hints so. The State notified 1,10,841 new TB cases in 2019, 70,546 in 2020 and 61,023 in 2021 (till October 10), shows data from the State Tuberculosis Control Department. While a few doctors term it a ‘blessing in disguise’, health experts want scientific proof that such behavior indeed helped restrict transmission of TB, a chronic respiratory disease that affects the lungs. This, they said, might take time, at least another year.” READ MORE

10/14/21: COVID-19’s Toll on Papua New Guinea (The Strategist)

“Community transmission since March has devastated urban centres and rural villages. Packed hospitals were forced to suspend other critical health services. By May, one in three tests proving positive at Port Moresby General Hospital indicated drastic rates of community infection. Since then, the highly contagious Delta variant has spread to all areas including the remote Western Province, where the two main hospitals are now full of Covid patients. In Port Moresby, the general hospital’s Covid quarantine facility is at capacity. PNG’s health system was unprepared. It was already stretched thin and struggling with serious issues with staffing, supplies, infrastructure and community health education. PNG’s maternal, child and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the region, and diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV remain prevalent.” READ MORE

10/14/21: ‘Malaria Vaccine Still Has Many Hurdles to Cross’ (The Guardian Nigeria)

“James Tibenderana, a Ugandan epidemiologist at the Malaria Consortium in London, said the RTS,S vaccine could be impactful in some regions. To achieve that, Tibenderana stressed the need for extensive communication campaigns, so that misinformation doesn’t hamper the rollout. ‘People will wonder why a 30-year-old, partially effective vaccine is suddenly being introduced during a pandemic — and targeted only at Africans,’ he said. ‘The misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines should teach us that we can’t take community trust for granted.’ Despite the long road ahead, he and others are grateful for the WHO’s decision. ‘With the devastation of COVID-19, and with progress stalled on malaria control, and news of resistance to anti-malaria drugs, it’s uplifting to see some positive news,’ he said.” READ MORE

10/9/21: Chris Selley: Malaria and COVID-19 Vaccine Miracles Shouldn’t be in Competition (National Post)

“Superb news out of Geneva this week offers a particularly stark perspective on the relative risks children face: the World Health Organization has approved the first vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, which is the nastiest of the known malaria parasites. The vaccine is ‘only’ about 50 per cent effective. Gavi, the public/private alliance that decides which vaccines are worth investing in for developing countries, will still have to sign off. ‘COVID is a big unknown in the room in terms of where capacity is currently in countries, and rolling out COVID-19 vaccines is a huge effort,’ Deepali Patel, Gavi’s head of malaria vaccination programs, told the New York Times. ‘We’re really going to have to see how the pandemic unfolds next year in terms of when countries will be ready to pick up all of these other priorities.’” READ MORE

10/8/21: Global Fund Crosses US$4 billion Mark in Funding to Support Countries in the Fight Against COVID-19 (The Global Fund)

“‘The Global Fund’s ability to act swiftly and at scale to support countries’ COVID-19 responses reflects the power and the agility of the Global Fund partnership. We have been supporting countries to meet the new challenges posed by the pandemic in 2021, including surges in infections and deaths driven by the Delta variant, acute oxygen shortages and the need to support vaccine rollout through strengthening systems for health,’ said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. ‘Our recent Results Report demonstrated how badly COVID-19 has impacted HIV, TB and malaria programs. Yet, without the rapid and determined actions that took place across the Global Fund partnership to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the three diseases, it would have been much worse.’” READ MORE

10/8/21: ‘A Historic Moment’: Why a Malaria Vaccine in Africa Will Reignite the Fight Against Disease (CNBC)

“Sutherland also said the long-term prospects of future malaria vaccines deploying the same RNA-based technology present in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are ‘excellent,’ and have opened up a ‘very exciting pathway’ in vaccine research. ‘Pharma needs strong partnerships and incentivization to work in tropical disease drug and vaccine development. In fact, malaria vaccine success (and indeed Covid vaccine success) has not come just from private enterprise working alone, but from a complex ecosystem of co-operation and innovative funding mechanisms involving academia, pharma, international charities and substantial amounts of direct government funding (from the UK, EU, USA and other countries),’ he highlighted. ‘Therefore it is imperative that government funding is maintained, particularly in global health where profits are low.’” READ MORE

10/8/21: Next Africa: A Victory Against a Forgotten Disease (Bloomberg)

“The malaria vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline and its partners isn’t the most effective, preventing only four out of 10 cases among children. Still, it’s the first major advance in the struggle to curb a disease that saps productivity across a continent, much of which is hot and humid and therefore prone to malaria. ‘For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,’ said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. The Covid-19 pandemic has set back Africa’s struggles against many of the endemic diseases that plague the continent. In southern Africa, people with HIV and tuberculosis have at times been unable to access treatment and medication. Further north, immunization programs against a host of childhood diseases have been interrupted. As Moeti put it, there is now ‘a glimmer of hope.’” READ MORE

10/7/21: Malaria, Known to Humans for Millennia, Finally has a Vaccine. Here’s Why it Was so Hard to Develop (Salon)

Given how long humans have been studying malaria, it is reasonable to ask why has it been so difficult to develop a vaccine for malaria — and why, in contrast, the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 was developed at such a fast pace. Part of the answer lies in the nature of the diseases. Malaria is a parasite, not a virus like SARS-CoV-2, or influenza…. ‘There were 135 [COVID-19] vaccine candidates, in the entire history of malaria vaccine research there’s maybe been five or so, or maybe 10, but there hasn’t been that same kind of investment,’ Wirth said. ‘Would it have been successful? Hard to say, but certainly trying everything that you can imagine, all at once, did have an accelerating effect on the field.’… Wirth said she hopes the success of these vaccines will guide the scientific community into a new era of vaccine development. ‘I hope it will unleash what will be a renaissance of thinking,’ Wirth said.” READ MORE

10/7/21: African Scientists’ Historic Malaria Breakthrough Celebrated by Peers (CNN)

“Dr. Akpaka Kalu, WHO Regional Advisor for Tropical and Vector-borne Disease, said positive results from ongoing pilot programs of malaria vaccinations in three African countries — Ghana, Malawi and Kenya — had led the organization to recommend widespread use of RTS,S/AS0 or Mosquirix among children in sub-Saharan Africa…. Kalu said there are ongoing discussions to transfer vaccine manufacturing technology to Africa as facilities on the continent build out local infrastructure to produce Covid-19 vaccines. ‘We hope that the same technology used for Covid vaccines will be used to manufacture malaria vaccines and other vaccines in the future,’ he said. ‘This long-awaited vaccine, developed in Africa, by African scientists, is a breakthrough for science, child health, and malaria control,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a thread on his official Twitter account Wednesday.” READ MORE

10/2/21: COVID-19 Derailed India’s Healthcare System, Raising Risk of Other Diseases (The Siasat Times)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented stress on healthcare infrastructure in India, leaving other infectious diseases largely unattended and raising their risk of outbreaks, according to a White Paper by FICCI-Elsevier released on Saturday. Other than Covid, India has a high burden of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, which kills nearly one person in the country every minute…. The paper revealed that the delay in detection, diagnosis and treatment may lead to nearly 20 per cent more deaths in adults due to tuberculosis during Covid. It noted that the pandemic reversed the achievements which were gained in past years in terms of the decrease in the number of cases of HIV and the decrease in children and adolescents who will access treatment. Models project 10 percent more deaths due to HIV over the next five years.” READ MORE

10/1/21: ‘Killing More than 4,000 People Per Day, TB Still Not A Priority’ (Daily Observer)

“‘Years of chronic neglect have led to an unbearable situation in which TB kills more than 4,000 people a day— more than HIV and malaria combined—and still, too few decision makers, donors and stakeholders care about TB,’ said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership. ‘It is not that we will see future consequences: we are in the middle of the disaster, and our attention seems to be in the very wrong place. Data from 2020 and 2021 will reveal soon how hundreds of thousands of additional people are dying from TB and how TB drug resistance and the TB epidemic itself are on the rise.’” READ MORE

9/30/21: For Africa, COVID-19’s Economic Impact Will Be More Deadly Than the Virus (RANE)

“For African nations engaged in fiscal recovery, ongoing economic hardship will be more deadly than COVID-19. International actors have called for increased vaccination and containment efforts in Africa. But while made in good faith, such calls fail to realize that this will ultimately risk harming Africans’ quality of life by further suppressing economic activity via lockdown measures, while diverting key resources away from other long-term development projects across the Continent. Investment in health initiatives to combat malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, the development of schools and educational facilities, and projects aimed at boosting employment and infrastructure all stand to suffer from a diversion of resources to the fight against COVID-19 — posing a severe threat to Africans’ livelihoods for years to come.” READ MORE

9/29/19: Head of UNAIDS Unpacks the Knock-on Effects of COVID-19. And What Needs to be Done (The Conversation)

“Hundreds of thousands are still dying of AIDS and 1.5 million people were newly infected last year. AIDS remains a crisis and COVID-19 is making it worse. Even before COVID-19, we were off track in meeting the global AIDS targets and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us back even further. COVID-19 related restrictions have hurt the most vulnerable, including marginalized and stigmatized communities and has disrupted access to HIV services…. Amid unprecedented global disruptions, we must act urgently to prevent a resurgent global AIDS pandemic and to quickly recover our progress toward ending AIDS. To get fully back on track on HIV we absolutely have to get on top of COVID-19.” READ MORE

9/29/21: 2021 May be Worse for Tuberculosis (Devex)

“The world is off track in fulfilling the United Nations high-level meeting targets for tuberculosis, and the global TB response may see further setbacks in 2021 than in 2020. COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on the TB response, and the Stop TB Partnership estimates at least 1.2 million fewer people may be diagnosed and treated for TB in 2021 compared to 2020, Stop TB Partnership Executive Director Lucica Ditiu said during a press briefing Tuesday. In 2020, there was already an estimate of 1.4 million fewer people diagnosed and treated for the disease than in 2019, she said.” READ MORE

9/29/21: Deaths of Women and Children Show Wider Impact of Pandemic (Bloomberg)

“COVID-19 has hobbled health-care services and diverted resources from other important campaigns in many vulnerable nations over the past 18 months…. Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said earlier this month that COVID has pushed its efforts ‘off track in significant ways.’ About one million fewer people with tuberculosis were treated in 2020 compared with 2019, it estimated. When it comes to women and children, decreases in the use of essential health services between March 2020 and June 2021 led to almost 114,000 additional deaths in 18 countries, according to preliminary findings this month that haven’t been peer reviewed. That’s equivalent to more than two deaths for each reported COVID death, the analysis funded by the facility showed.” READ MORE

9/28/21: Report: COVID-19, Lack of Funding are Hampering TB Response (UMN CIDRAP)

“‘Years of chronic neglect have led to an unbearable situation in which TB kills more than 4,000 people a day— more than HIV and malaria combined—and still, too few decision makers, donors, and stakeholders care about TB,’ saidLucica Ditiu, MD, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, in a press release. ‘Data from 2020 and 2021 will reveal soon how hundreds of thousands of additional people are dying from TB and how TB drug resistance and the TB epidemic itself are on the rise.’ Although each year an estimated 10 million people fall ill with TB and 1.5 million die, incidence and deaths have been declining steadily over the past decade. But the pandemic and resulting lockdowns have hindered case detection and TB treatment services in many high-burden countries.” READ MORE

9/26/21: COVID Raises Bar for Infectious Disease Crisis Response (Financial Times)
“‘Smallpox was eradicated; deaths caused by measles, malaria and meningitis sharply reduced; and more recent emerging infections, such as HIV, were brought under better control. Even in lower-income countries, economic development and investment in healthcare systems have helped ease the relative impact of infections. But, paradoxically, such economic progress has helped create a “double burden” that includes various non-communicable conditions associated with longevity and “lifestyle”, such as diabetes. Still, transmitted respiratory diseases have remained significant contributors to morbidity and mortality everywhere. Tuberculosis burdens poorer and more marginalized groups in richer, middle-income and developing countries.” READ MORE

9/24/21: Kenyan Adolescents with HIV Facing ‘Devastating’ Effects of COVID-19 (Avert)

“More than 40% had experienced food insecurity, which means there were times when they did not have enough to eat. A further 4% did not have enough to eat most of the time. More than one third stopped all schoolwork during the pandemic. This was more common among adolescents who had left HIV care than those still enrolled (46% vs. 36%). Around 10% were working before COVID-19, but two-thirds had lost their job due to the pandemic. More than a third (36%) relied on someone else who had lost a job or income during the pandemic…. Around one in five (19%) said they were worried about staying healthy during the pandemic. One of the biggest fears among adolescents was that having HIV might mean they were more likely to get ill if they got COVID-19. The findings show the need to improve support for adolescents with HIV during times of crisis, particularly in relation to food and education.” READ MORE

9/22/21: Covid Coughs Up New Problem: A Greater Vulnerability To TB? (The Times of India)

“Is low immunity and lung damage caused by COVID-19 predisposing some people to get tuberculosis? Many doctors are raising this concern as there has been a significant surge in diagnosis of the bacterial infection over the past few months. Dr. Jugal Kishore, head of community medicine department at Safdarjung Hospital, said detection of TB has nearly doubled. ‘It’s possible that many patients who had TB are coming to hospitals now and getting tested, hence the increase in detection. But we cannot rule out the role of steroid use for COVID-19 management. It reduces immunity and predisposes those with latent infection to get active TB.,’ he added…. The increase in TB cases in the country was highlighted by public health experts in July too. The Union health ministry had then clarified that TB screening for all COVID-positive patients and COVID-19 screening for all diagnosed TB patients had been recommended.” READ MORE

9/12/21: The Fight Against COVID-19 Should Not Cloud the Burden of African Endemic Diseases (Face2Face: Africa)

“The narrowed conversation driven by the impacts of the current pandemic is driving neglect of already neglected diseases across the world, especially in Africa. While malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS are still among the major causes of death in Africa, the existing refocusing of already limited resources on COVID-19 could lead to millions of excess deaths and disabilities through Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) mortality and morbidity…. Africa’s fight against the current pandemic must not be allowed to undermine the progress that has been achieved in control programs of African endemic diseases.” READ MORE

9/9/21: Peter Sands: HIV, TB, and Malaria Needs Even Greater Post-Pandemic (DEVEX)

“When the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria launched a funding mechanism to help protect the gains made in the fight against the three diseases. But the damage from the pandemic was still significant…. ‘I think the thing that most worries me right now is that some of the countries — and I will include most of Africa here — that were less hard hit in 2020 by COVID are now being pretty hard hit. And that will inevitably have a knock-on impact on the other diseases,’ he added. All these mean the world is further off track in meeting the targets set out for the three diseases in the Sustainable Development Goals. To get back on track will require steeper reductions in deaths and infections, more money, innovations, and effective execution of interventions, Sands said.” READ MORE

9/9/21: COVID-19 Added Over $290 billion to the Global Cost of TB Deaths: Study (Down To Earth)

“Disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic added $290.3 billion to the global cost of tuberculosis (TB) deaths, found a new study. The economic loss due to these deaths was $17.5 trillion in 2020, with south Asia incurring the highest share ($7.1 trillion), according to the report published in the Lancet journal…. The analysis was done keeping in mind three scenarios: First, a steady 2 per cent annual decrease in deaths, referred to as the business-as-usual scenario, if the SDG is met by 2030 and by 2045, continuing in the same trajectory till 2050. In the business-as-usual scenario, if tuberculosis deaths continue to decline at 2 per cent annually until 2050, 31.8 million deaths can occur from 2020–2050, the researchers estimated.” READ MORE

9/9/21: Not the Shot in the Arm the World Expected: The Pandemic’s Collateral Victims (Politico)

“Even after the pandemic is over — and we’re far from that — the ripple effects of Covid-19 will continue for years to come. Because of the virus’ disruptions, fewer people across the globe got tested for tuberculosis, HIV and malaria over the past year, a new report by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria shows….Fear and stigma hold patients back: Many health care facilities treating tuberculosis switched to providing care for Covid-19, and many people failed to get tested fearing they would catch the coronavirus, Erlina Burham, a pulmonologist who specializes in TB and heads the Covid-19 team at the Persahabatan National Lung Hospital in Jakarta, told Global Pulse.” READ MORE

9/8/21: Global Fund Results Report Reveals COVID-19 Devastating Impact on HIV, TB and Malaria Programs (The Global Fund)

“The Results Report reveals the catastrophic impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the fight against TB worldwide. In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in the countries where the Global Fund invests dropped by a staggering 19%, with those on treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB registering an even bigger drop of 37%. The number of HIV-positive TB patients on antiretroviral treatment as well as TB treatment dropped by 16%. The report also highlights significant declines in HIV testing and prevention services for key and vulnerable populations who were already disproportionately affected. Compared with 2019, people reached with HIV prevention programs and services declined by 11% while young people reached with prevention services declined by 12%…. Interventions to combat malaria appear to have been less badly affected by COVID-19 than the other two diseases. Thanks to adaptation measures and the diligence and innovation of community health workers, prevention activities remained stable or increased compared to 2019.” READ MORE

9/2/21: Ramping up of COVID-19 vaccination will bring more focus to TB (The Economic Times)

“Screening, diagnosing and treating tuberculosis taking a backseat with COVID-19 and to meet the target of making India TB-free by 2025, which is ahead of global target, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya urged all the states to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination, as it will help in bringing more focus to TB in addition to safeguarding the population from severe COVID-19.” READ MORE

9/2/21: Untreated HIV, Low CD4 Count or Unsuppressed Viral Load Raise the Risk of COVID-19 Death in South Africa (NAM)

“People with HIV not on antiretroviral treatment were 45% more likely to die after admission to hospital with COVID-19 compared to people taking antiretroviral treatment, a large study of in-hospital deaths from COVID-19 in South Africa has concluded. The study also found an increased risk of death in people with HIV with CD4 counts below 200 and in people with HIV with viral loads above 1000 copies/ml, irrespective of antiretroviral treatment.” READ MORE

9/1/21: WHO HIV PrEP Recommendations Associated with Global Increase in Use (Contagion)

“Adoption of World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis was associated with a global increase in PrEP use, but fell short of targets, a new study determined.… The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends towards de-medicalized, simplified, and differentiated PrEP service delivery, which could further remove barriers to uptake and use of PrEP.” READ MORE

8/13/21: Global Fund Grants U.S. $37 Million to FIND for Advancement of TB prevention and Control in India (The Global Fund)

“India accounts for more than one-quarter (26%) of the global TB burden and has the largest share of the global burden of drug-resistant TB. In this country, people newly diagnosed with TB rose from 1.2 million in 2013 to 2.2 million in 2019. But the impact of lockdowns, TB diagnostic services being reallocated to COVID-19, and pandemic-related disruption of procurement and transportation of medicines and laboratory consumables led to a drastic reduction in notifications between January and June 2020 despite the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic and mitigate its impact on TB programs. It is estimated that the notification rate fell by 25% compared with the same period in 2019.” READ MORE

Click here for further reading