The European Respiratory Society (ERS) welcomes the new agreement between the Stop TB Partnership and Johnson & Johnson, supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to help enable low- and middle-income countries to scale up the use of bedaquiline.
The announcement supports the recently updated World Health Organization (WHO) treatment guidelines, and it comes at a critical moment given that people with drug resistant-tuberculosis (DR-TB) are more vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in many countries around the world, the WHO advises TB-affected countries to shift to all-oral treatment for DR-TB as soon as it is feasible. This recommendation is intended to allow for home-based care and to protect the safety of those receiving DR-TB treatment.
Further, switching to oral treatment regimens could significantly reduce the number of visits made by patients to the clinics for treatment, therefore reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Countries are urged to test and treat all people with tuberculosis for drug resistance, as recommended by the new WHO guidelines.