- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe released a report today that shows a 1.1% increase in incident tuberculosis (TB) cases compared with 2020, but a 23% decline from 2019. Despite the decline, which likely reflects a COVID-19 pandemic–related drop in TB notifications, the agencies say the European Region still remains a long way from meeting its End TB Strategy targets of reducing TB incidence by 80% and TB deaths by 90% by 2030. The report also notes that the burden of rifampicin-resistant TB increased in 2021, and that the region is home to nine of the 30 countries with the highest burden of drug-resistant TB.
- WHO's Regional Office for Africa reported today that the region is recording a roughly 4% annual decline in TB cases—twice the global pace. In addition, TB deaths in the region fell by 26% from 2015 to 2021, with high-burden countries surpassing initial targets. WHO officials say increased uptake of recommended tools and guidance has resulted in early access to TB prevention and care and better outcomes. "African countries have made remarkable progress against TB," WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, said in a news release. "The question is no longer about whether we can end TB, but how fast we must act to reduce the disease burden, save lives and maintain a high momentum towards a TB-free world."
- The Stop TB Partnership today announced that a new high-level advocacy group will be launched at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB in September. The Coalition of Leaders to End TB will bring together heads of state and government from several high TB burden countries, including India, South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, and Nigeria. "We need increased political commitments from all high TB burden countries, and significantly more financing so that we can meet all the challenges and embark upon a much faster path to new vaccines," Stop TB Partnership director Lucica Ditiu said in a press release. "We know what it takes to end TB; we need to roll up our sleeves and make it happen."
World TB Day Quick takes: TB incidence in Europe and Africa, new high-level advocacy group
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Peru reports vaccine-derived polio case
Peru has reported vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (VDPV1) in a child who developed paralysis symptoms in late December, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said yesterday in its latest polio update.
The 16-month-old boy is unvaccinated and had no travel history. He is from an indigenous community in Datem del Maranon province in northern Peru. The virus findings were confirmed by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil. Investigators haven't found any other acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases in town where the boy lives, but they noted recent declines in third-dose polio vaccine coverage and nine Guillain-Barre syndrome cases over the past year, all in adults.
PAHO said the VDPV1 case in Peru, the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) case reported in the United States in 2022, and the detection of the virus in wastewater in the United States and Canada underscores the importance of high vaccine coverage.
Pakistan, DRC, and Indonesia report more polio cases
In other polio developments, three other countries reported new cases, according to the latest weekly update from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Pakistan reported a wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case in a patient from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province whose AFP onset occurred on February 20, marking its first case of the year.
Elsewhere, the Democratic Republic of Congo reported two more cVDPV1 cases and three cVDPV2 cases, all with illness onsets in 2022. Also, Indonesia reported a cVDPV2 case from Java province involving a patient with a February 20 onset of paralysis, the country's third case of 2023.
Survey finds no link between COVID vaccination and period disruption
A survey conducted in United Kingdom women in March of 2021 found no concerning changes in menstrual periods among women who received the COVID-19 vaccines, UK researchers reported yesterday in the journal iScience.
For the study, the team asked women about menstrual changes during the pandemic, their COVID-19 vaccination history, and whether they had been sick with the virus. The participants included nearly 5,000 premenopausal women who had been vaccinated. Researchers found that 82% reported no changes. Of the 18% who reported changes, risks were higher in people who smoked, had previously been sick with COVID-19, or were not using oral contraceptives.
When the investigators looked at a wider group of 12,000 participants, which included unvaccinated women, they found no greater risk of disruption in vaccinated women than their unvaccinated peers who had never been sick with the virus. However, those with a history of COVID-19 were more likely to report heavy bleeding, missed periods, and bleeding between periods.
Jackie Maybin, MBChB, PhD, a study author with the University of Edinburg's MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, said in a University of Edinburgh press release that the results may reflect some bias, due to those who chose to complete the survey. "Nevertheless, our results are reassuring that Covid-19 vaccination does not cause concerning menstrual changes, and helpful for identifying people who might be at higher risk of experiencing menstrual disturbance."