All-Oral Regimens Maintain DR-TB Treatment During COVID-19

Speeches Shim

DR-TB all-oral regimen
DR-TB all-oral regimen
Photo Credit: Dirk Adrian Alfaro

Until recently, drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) treatment included months of injectable medicines that were associated with severe adverse events, such as hearing loss. With the advent of new TB medicines, and based on data from research supported by USAID and other partners, a new all-oral regimen is the international standard for treatment of DR-TB. USAID is supporting the scale up of these regimens, which increased by 38 percent from 2019 to 2020.

During COVID-19, the switch to all-oral treatment regimens was important in maintaining many MDR-TB patients on treatment during pandemic-related movement restriction and lockdowns.

In the Philippines, the NTP introduced the short all-oral regimen in March 2020, just prior to COVID-19 lockdowns, and USAID supported the NTP in conducting virtual trainings to cover all DR-TB health facilities by July 2020. The pandemic made the shift more urgent and rapid, as with quarantine restrictions, it would have been difficult for those receiving injectables to report to health facilities daily for injections.

By the end of 2020, 50 percent of all those on MDR-TB treatment were provided with a short all-oral regimen. Despite the pandemic, the Philippines MDR-TB treatment success rate went up to 74 percent in 2020.14 Based on this and other successes, USAID continues to support research activities to evaluate better TB and DR-TB treatment regimens options.

Last updated: February 25, 2022

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