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People with TB and HIV at increased risk of severe Covid-19 infection

7 April 2020 7:12 AM
Tags:
Active pulmonary tuberculosis
TB
coronavirus covid-19.

SA Medical Research Council outlines the potential risk of Covid-19 symptoms being more severe in those with TB and HIV.

There has been major concern surrounding the coronavirus pandemic impact on the lungs of those infected with diseased such as tuberculosis, which is very prevalent in South Africa, as both are respiratory illnesses.

Refilwe Moloto talks to Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele, Vice President for Research at the South African Medical Research Council whose interests included epidemiology of HIV, genomics of infectious diseases and vaccination control of infectious diseases.

We are very worried in the health fraternity that if you get Covid-19 infection in addition to co-existing morbidities and chronic conditions such as TB, HIV, the Covid-19 infection might be a little more complicated.

Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele, Vice President for Research - South African Medical Research Council

We have a high burden of TB.

Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele, Vice President for Research - South African Medical Research Council

The Western Cape has one of the highest Tuberculosis rates in the country.

It is a valid concern. If you already have TB, which affects the lungs of course, and you are exposed to Covid-19 infection, what would happen to you?

Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele, Vice President for Research - South African Medical Research Council

He gives the assurance that those who have been on TB treatment and fully recovered will not contract TB again if contracting Covid-19.

But the worry is if you contract Covid-19 while you are still taking TB medication because you still have TB, and obviously, in that case, we just don't know what will happen because we don't have the data.

Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele, Vice President for Research - South African Medical Research Council

One of the myths being spread is that taking TB medication makes one more resistant to the coronavirus.

Covid-19 is a new infection and the medical fraternity does not yet know the impact of Covid-19 on existing TB sufferers, insists Mphahlele. There is no scientific basis to make any correlations at this stage.

Based on the evidence of the severe impact of influenza on HIV-positive patients, he says people with TB and HIV should be extra careful.

Based on those deductions we think that if you have got Covid-19 and TB, or Covid-19 and HIV, most probably you will be at an increased risk of severity of Covid-19 infection. That is the logic that is at play.

Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele, Vice President for Research - South African Medical Research Council

Listen to the interview below:


7 April 2020 7:12 AM
Tags:
Active pulmonary tuberculosis
TB
coronavirus covid-19.

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