Tuberculosis and COVID-19 interaction: A review of biological, clinical and public health effects

Pulmonology. 2021 Mar-Apr;27(2):151-165. doi: 10.1016/j.pulmoe.2020.12.012. Epub 2021 Jan 22.


Evidence is accumulating on the interaction between tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19. The aim of the present review is to report the available evidence on the interaction between these two infections. Differences and similarities of TB and COVID-19, their immunological features, diagnostics, epidemiological and clinical characteristics and public health implications are discussed. The key published documents and guidelines on the topic have been reviewed. Based on the immunological mechanism involved, a shared dysregulation of immune responses in COVID-19 and TB has been found, suggesting a dual risk posed by co-infection worsening COVID-19 severity and favouring TB disease progression. The available evidence on clinical aspects suggests that COVID-19 happens regardless of TB occurrence either before, during or after an active TB diagnosis. More evidence is required to determine if COVID-19 may reactivate or worsen active TB disease. The role of sequeale and the need for further rehabilitation must be further studied Similarly, the potential role of drugs prescribed during the initial phase to treat COVID-19 and their interaction with anti-TB drugs require caution. Regarding risk of morbidity and mortality, several risk scores for COVID-19 and independent risk factors for TB have been identified: including, among others, age, poverty, malnutrition and co-morbidities (HIV co-infection, diabetes, etc.). Additional evidence is expected to be provided by the ongoing global TB/COVID-19 study.

Keywords: COVID-19; Health services; Impact; Interaction; Rehabilitation; Tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / pathology
  • Coinfection / epidemiology*
  • Coinfection / pathology
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Public Health / methods*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / pathology