Health experts around the world are sounding the alarm for yet another side effect of the coronavirus to the health field and the world at large.
According to CNBC, more than 70 countries have warned that they are at risk of running out of HIV medication due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even further, 24 countries have “critically low” stock of antiretroviral medicine. This information comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) who conducted a survey.
Part of the possible causes for this change is the closure of many land and air transportation services. With suppliers being unable to deliver medication to health services, there is a growing concern for HIV treatment and prevention around the globe.
“The findings of this survey are deeply concerning,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “Countries and their development partners must do all they can to ensure that people who need HIV treatment continue to access it. We cannot let the COVID-19 pandemic undo the hard-won gains in the global response to this disease.”
In addition, the remaining HIV drugs may see their prices skyrocket soon, according to HIVPlusMag.
“It has been estimated that a 10–25% increase in [overhead and transport costs] could result in an annual increase in the final cost of exported antiretroviral medicines from India alone of between US$ 100 million and US$ 225 million,” according to UNAIDS. This is alarming as India produces about 80 percent of all generic antiretroviral drugs.
Unfortunately, HIV treatment isn’t the only health issue that could be affected by the coronavirus. In May, Stop TB Partnership published a study saying that an estimated 6.3 million people could develop tuberculosis between now and 2025 due to lockdown procedures. It also predicted that 1.4 million people could die from the disease.
“This situation makes me sick, because (it) is totally avoidable,” Lucica Ditiu, Stop TB Partnership’s Executive Director, told CNBC. “We just need to keep in mind that TB, as well as other diseases, keep affecting and killing people every single day, not just Covid-19.”