Researchers from India, Brazil, Russia, S Africa to study th
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A consortium of doctors and researchers from India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa will conduct a study on the epidemiological impact of the COVID-19 and tuberculosis pandemics in these countries, the Department of Science and Technology said. Under this, joint research teams from these countries will explore the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the epidemiological characteristics of the tuberculosis (TB) infection, it said.

"They will also search for mechanisms responsible for the interaction of these two processes," the Department of Science and Technology (DST) said in a statement. The teams will find strategies to mitigate the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and develop individual recommendations for each participating country, it said. This will help them overcome the impact of epidemics of respiratory viral diseases on the epidemic of tuberculosis, the statement said.

Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa, which are currently ranked second to fifth in the number of cases of COVID-19, belong to 24 countries recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the highest burden of tuberculosis, it said. Moreover, the BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- have the largest number of cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis, the statement said. Hence, the research will be conducted in four BRICS nations where one of the highest-burden rates of both Covid and tuberculosis have been recorded simultaneously, it said.

"The teams will assess the impact of COVID-19 on trends in the structure of the M. tuberculosis population, primarily through the interaction between scientists from Russia and India. The teams from Brazil and South Africa will evaluate the impact of tuberculosis on the clinical course and treatment outcomes for COVID-19 at the individual level," the DST said. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictive measures on morbidity and tuberculosis-related mortality will be assessed using mathematical modelling.

This collaborative research will provide a differentiated country-based assessment of the negative consequences of COVID-19 on the provision of anti-tuberculosis care, its continuity, consistency and adequacy through a comparative analysis of the inter-country similarities and differences in the interaction of the two epidemics at the population and individual level, the statement said.

The analysis will provide insights into the most important points of application for epidemiological, medico-social, clinical, and socio-economic interventions that are expected to reduce morbidity and mortality from the interaction of COVID-19 and TB in both the short and long term, it said.