Pandemic Disruptions Blamed for First Increase in Estimated Tuberculosis Deaths in More Than a Decade

Estimated deaths from tuberculosis—the deadliest infectious disease until the emergence of Covid-19—increased for the first time in more than a decade last year, the World Health Organization said Thursday, blaming severe disruptions in treatment and diagnosis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Using statistical models to help compensate for gaps in testing for and reporting of tuberculosis, especially in developing countries, the United Nations’ health agency estimated that around 1.5 million people died last year of the disease. That is up from 1.4 million estimated TB deaths in 2019. TB is a bacterial infection that most commonly affects the lungs and is especially dangerous for people with HIV and others with compromised immune systems.

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