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Tuberculosis and COVID: Can There Be Some Associations



Ever since WHO declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as pandemic we have seen the virus upending everyday life across the globe and affecting everyone as we speak. The prolonged periods of social isolation have changed the way we live our everyday lives.
While it continues to mutate and produce successive waves of infection, it persists to pose a great threat to mankind across the globe. Even with a great global initiative of vaccinating billions of people, experts aren’t sure as to what we should expect next.

The COVID virus is still finding its way into our lives. Get tested if you doubt having symptoms. Book COVID RT-PCR here.
Over the past couple of years global efforts have been put forward to understand the pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of covid19. It is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV2), a member of the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) family. The members of this viral family, have been known to produce respiratory, enteric, hepatic and neurological disease in several animals and on occasions have shown ability to cross species and affect humans. To date only 7 types of coronaviruses have been found to cause disease in humans. The members of this viral family are a common pathogen to cause common cold in humans.

The symptoms in affected individuals are mostly limited to respiratory tracts with fever, sore throat, and body aches being common. Some individuals may even remain asymptomatic or may have mild abdominal discomfort. Studies have shown that in most asymptomatic individuals and those recovering after milder symptoms, the virus remains localised to the upper respiratory tract and seldom reaches the lung. However, in the lungs, the virus attacks the type 2 epithelial cells hampering normal gas exchange and causing oxygen desaturation in the body. Still, why some individuals develop the pulmonary phase of disease or develop massive cytokine storm whereas most others get away with much milder courses of disease is less understood.



As COVID 19 presents with predominant respiratory symptoms, it becomes imperative to keep another older airborne disease of tuberculosis in mind. Both of them affect the lungs and have overlapping symptoms like fever, weight loss and sore throat such that at times distinguishing tuberculosis symptoms from COVID-19 becomes difficult.

Think that long-standing coughs are due to exposure to TB bacteria? Book a Genexpert test and clear all doubts.    

Apart from the various clinical similarities in presentation, both the diseases are also affected by identical social determinants like overcrowding, poor hygiene and comorbidities. So we should always keep TB symptoms and treatment in mind while treating COVID-19 patients. Certain studies suggest that patients affected with TB are not only more likely to be infected with COVID-19 but are also more susceptible to adverse COVID outcomes. So it becomes imperative to identify both the clinical entities separately although both of them affect the lungs but they have separate tests with Tuberculosis treatment entirely separate from protocols for managing COVID-19 along with distinct clinical outcomes. TB treatment might involve taking a number of medications for 6 to 12 months and needs strict adherence to the medicine schedule. In recent times diagnosis of TB have seen a paramount shift and Genexpert mtb is the most commonly performed test. The Genexpert test is a fully automated advanced genetic method for diagnosis of TB using relatively small quantities of sample in a relatively small span of time. It not only allows rapid diagnosis but also provides information regarding rifampicin resistance, so it’s also called MTB rif commonly. Genexpert TB test detects both live and dead TB bacilli as well as distinguishes them from the non-tubercular bacilli. With global efforts likely diverted to tackle this pandemic it is expected to have a huge and everlasting impact on global tuberculosis control targets, meaning millions of new cases may go undiagnosed globally. Need to book a test and know the TB test price? Check at

Some experts and studies have recommended routine screening for TB among suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in countries with high TB burden. It is pivotal that the world does not take its eyes off TB during the pandemic.

As TB still remains to be a leading cause of death globally, efforts need to be redirected in missing out on diagnosis of these new cases with help of tuberculosis tests as well as providing support to existing ones.


Take a little extra care

ThoughCOVID is caused by a virus and TB due to a bacteria, the risk of both infections can be reduced by using a few simple precautions:

● Good ventilation in the residential area and indoors

● Maintain personal hygiene. Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing reduces the spread of germs

● Get tested and consult a doctor on suspecting symptoms.

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