Since December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected over 2162111 people and killed more than 146, 198 people. One side of the world is struggling to find medicine and vaccines but scientists say that it would approximately take more than a year to find the accurate medicine or vaccine as it has to pass through several stages of testing. The other side of the world is following strict preventative measures to save themselves from the CoronaVirus. Seemingly, the number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing but the impact it is creating is really big and is not easily reversible. Many countries are having full lockdowns in which shops, malls, industries, schools, and public transportation are closed temporarily in order to prevent the spread, this has hugely impacted the world’s economy. In a state where the pandemic is terribly affecting people’s mental and physical health, a new study published in The Lancet Global Health by authors from Imperial College, London says that the COVID-19 pandemic might have a larger impact in increasing the infectious disease deaths such as HIV, TB, and Malaria. But what is the relation between COVID-19 spread and other diseases? Let’s have an in-depth look.

A study modeling public health impacts due to COVID-19 shows that it has a huge impact on infectious disease deaths such as HIV, TB, and malaria. The new model suggests that low-income and middle-income countries are most likely to be affected. Researchers also say that the mortality rate of HIV, TB, and Malaria are likely to increase by 10%, 20%, and 36% respectively in the upcoming 5 years due to disruption in the health services. The models also indicate the health burdens of the long-standing diseases are at risk. The antiretroviral for HIV would be interrupted due to the health care resources paying too much attention to COVID-19 cases. The United Nation AIDS Agency and WHO reported a shortage of necessary stock. In the last few years, there is a tremendous decrease in the death rate of malaria, it is because of the regular distribution of nets but if the pandemic interrupts the distribution eventually it leads to the increased death rate. Already, more than 1/3rd of the country is experiencing a shortage of antiretrovirals. Interruption of diagnosing disease and not providing treatments at the right time are the two major difficulties that might increase the mortality rate rapidly but these are the main interruptions caused by the pandemic. 

Controlling the Mortality

The pandemic is interrupting all other medicinal needs and plays a major role in increasing the death rate of other diseases but experts say that mortality can still be reduced. The authors also suggest that the increased death count might be due to the pandemic, since the COVID-19 cases overwhelming the health system, patients might not be given sufficient care and lockdowns might limit health care routines. The authors explain that the increased mortality rate might be mitigated if the antiretroviral treatment for HIV is given. Diagnosing and providing the right treatment at the right time are other ways to decrease the risk.  Since 2000, the spread of malaria has been reduced due to the distribution of mosquito nets but disruption in this might higher the risk of malaria. Delivering mosquito nets to their homes and giving multiple prescriptions at a time might help, the authors say. The authors mentioned that they provide help to people who are suffering from TB by helping in treatment enrollment, training new technicians, and by equipping new molecular diagnostic instruments. They say, in April a COVID-19 Response scheme was made available that allowed countries to redeploy up to 5% of their grants, which quickly made up to $500 million. This scheme enables funds to treatments and condoms mostly to sex workers as they are more vulnerable to the disease. All the activities they do are tracked in order to avoid delays and other issues.