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Tuberculosis R&D could boost Covid-19 response

Image: Governor Tom Wolf [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

Similarities between diseases could lead to ‘positive synergy’, says advocacy group

Increased investment in tuberculosis research may boost efforts to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic, an advocacy group has argued,

The Treatment Action Group said in a 4 September report that the similarities in transmission and public health responses to TB and Covid-19 could lead to a positive synergy in research.

“Investment in TB R&D has considerably improved scientific knowledge regarding airborne pathogens and interventions to curb their spread,” the report states.

According to TAG’s Catherine Tomlinson, possible benefits from TB research that could be used against Covid-19 include transmission dynamics and aerobiology, artificial intelligence, diagnostic tools, vaccine platforms, increased capacity for research, and laboratory safety protocols.

But the pandemic has also had many negative effects on TB research funding, Tomlinson writes. These include TB clinical trials ceasing enrolment due to restrictions, and re-direction of  infrastructure used for TB research to Covid-19 responses.

The pandemic has also disrupted other research endeavours such as patient monitoring, treatments, sample collection, and diversion of TB research labs and scientists to Covid-19 research or testing.