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Tuberculosis and COVID-19

TB disease is not known to put people at higher risk of COVID-19 infection, but it may put you at risk of having more severe symptoms.

There are many ways people with TB can reduce their chance of getting COVID-19, which include physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and safe social interactions. 

Receiving care at our TB clinics

Please keep your scheduled TB clinic appointments as they are very important to your health. The TB clinics are very strict about infection prevention and control so please be reassured that they are taking great efforts to keep you and their staff safe. Also, many clinics offer virtual appointments by phone or computer whenever possible.

People with active TB or those who are recovering

If you have had or are recovering from TB and have persistent symptoms of lung disease, you may be at risk for developing more severe symptoms if you acquire a respiratory viral infection, including COVID-19. Keep taking your TB treatment as prescribed. There is no clear evidence that active TB disease puts you at increased risk of COVID-19 infection, but we do know that people have worse health and treatment outcomes if their TB treatment is stopped or interrupted.  

If you have fully recovered from TB and do not have any other medical conditions such as diabetes, or heart or lung disease that put you at risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19, then your risk may be the same as the general population of similar age.

It is recommended that people who have had TB, especially those who required lung surgery or have post-TB lung disease, closely follow the recommendations to prevent getting any viral infection, including COVID-19. Other important steps to support good lung health and prevent poor outcomes include stopping tobacco, vaping, or e-cigarette use. 

People with latent TB infection

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that latent TB infection (LTBI) puts you at higher risk of getting COVID-19. If you are generally in good health, it is unlikely that LTBI influences the symptoms associated with COVID-19.  

TB medication and COVID-19

The medications used to treat TB disease and TB infection are not used to treat COVID-19 patients. If you are on TB medication you should continue to take your medication as prescribed and continue with medication refills as scheduled by your health care provider. While there are limits in global resources and delivery challenges from COVID-19, Canadian stakeholders continue to closely monitor and take steps to avoid disruptions to your care.

BCG vaccination and COVID-19

There is no evidence that the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) (a vaccine that has been used to protect children from severe cases of TB) protects people from acquiring COVID-19. Currently, there are two clinical trials to study this question, but at this time the World Health Organization (WHO) does NOT recommend the use of BCG vaccination to prevent or cure COVID-19. Also, people with a history of BCG vaccination should not feel they are protected from acquiring COVID-19 disease. Visit the WHO website for more information.

Comparison of TB and COVID-19 

The chart below provides a comparison of the two diseases. Visit the BCCDC website for further information on TB symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 complete the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool. If you have symptoms of TB, contact your health care provider or local Public Health Unit.


Anxiety about TB and COVID-19

Coping with a TB diagnosis itself can be difficult and cause a lot of worry. On top of that, the changes and uncertainty in our lives due to COVID-19 have created a lot of anxiety, stress, depression and fear among people of all ages, all around us. It is understandable to have concerns about how a COVID-19 infection could impact your health. Knowing the facts from credible sources, connecting with people you trust, and finding time to do self-care and practice wellness at home may be helpful. Visit the BC website Managing COVID-19 Stress, Anxiety and Depression for more information and access to mental health services. For further general information about coping with stress visit the WHO’s Coping with Stress during the 2019n-CoV outbreak infographic. 

Stigma associated with COVID-19

Stigma has a very powerful impact on our health and well-being. In our society, both TB and now COVID-19 are associated with social stigma which can cause significant harm such as discrimination, labelling, and stereotyping. As a result, people affected by stigma may hide their illness and avoid seeking care; may feel discouraged to engage in healthy behaviours; may be denied access to services, including housing and healthcare; may receive verbal, emotional and physical abuse; and may feel lonely and ashamed. If you or someone close to you is experiencing stigma, reach out to a friend, community or health care provider you trust for support. If you are interested in understanding ways to help stop stigma, visit the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 stigma: What it is and how to reduce it

If you have more questions about COVID-19 visit the Common Questions section of the BCCDC website.
SOURCE: Tuberculosis and COVID-19 ( )
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