The Union Health Ministry recommended that all tuberculosis patients be tested for the novel coronavirus and vice versa.
In a document titled 'Guidance Note on Bi-directional TB-COVID Screening and Screening of TB Among ILI/SARI Cases', the Health Ministry noted that tuberculosis is associated with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe coronavirus infection. Further, the prevalence of the disease among those infected by COVID-19 has been found to be 0.37 percent to 4.47 percent.
“Studies have shown that history of active as well as latent TB [tuberculosis] is an important risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 [severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2] infection,” the document read. “This not only results in increased susceptibility but also rapid and severe symptom development and disease progression with poor outcomes.”
Notably, tuberculosis patients also tend to have comorbidities or living conditions (malnutrition, diabetes, smoking habit, HIV, etc) that increase their vulnerability. To address this dual morbidity of tuberculosis and COVID-19, activities such as Bi-directional TB-COVID screening, TB screening for influenza-like illness (ILI) cases, and TB screening for severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) cases should be carried out, the health ministry advised.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here