On May 4, 2020, TAG’s TB Project Officer David Branigan recorded a podcast with Dr. Madhukar Pai, Director of the McGill International Tuberculosis Centre at McGill University, Montreal. The podcast explores the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed and limited access to TB diagnostic testing, and how governments, donors, diagnostics companies, researchers, and activists must step-up efforts to mitigate these impacts, and ensure that TB diagnostic testing is not abandoned in the response to COVID-19.
Dr. Pai urges all TB stakeholders to not abandon TB in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; he emphasizes that:
- Governments must maintain routine TB testing services even while expanding services to meet the demand for COVID-19 testing;
- Donors must not shift funding from TB to COVID-19—acknowledging that TB is already severely underfunded—and must instead expand overall resources;
- Diagnostics companies must not deprioritize the production of tests for TB—and other diseases of poverty—for more profitable COVID-19 tests;
- Researchers must not abandon TB research for COVID-19 research, and must build upon progress made to ensure a robust pipeline of new TB diagnostics; and
- Activists must redouble efforts to advocate for access to TB diagnostic testing and hold all stakeholders accountable for maintaining their commitments to TB.