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Misleading
misleading

CLAIM ID

11041ac0

Tuberculosis kills millions but has not received the same public health measures or warnings as COVID-19.

While Tuberculosis kills millions, it is not deadlier than COVID-19, and geographic, socioeconomic and public health context is lacking in this claim.According to a viral Facebook post, "10 million people contracted Tuberculosis last year. 1.5 million people DIED". "Did you even know? Were you scared for your life?" The claim implies that various COVID-19 measures, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and lockdowns, were not implemented for tuberculosis (TB) despite its deadliness. However, the claim is missing some key context. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.8 billion people are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), the bacteria that causes TB. In 2019, 10 million fell ill from TB, and 1.4 million died. As of December 21, there are over 75 million cases of COVID-19 in the world, and nearly 2 million people have died from the virus, which means that COVID-19 is actually deadlier than TB. Moreover, the claim does not consider geographical distribution, socioeconomic disparity, and transmission and how these differences dictate what measures are taken by countries to tackle the diseases. While TB and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, there are some differences. A bacterium causes tuberculosis; a virus related to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, SARS-CoV, causes COVID-19. Both spread through close physical contact. USA TODAY notes that "TB usually spreads in hours, and for COVID-19, it's a virus with very short interaction, (which) results in the spread of the infection." There are two TB-related conditions – latent TB infection and TB disease. When exposed to TB, a person can either develop TB disease with symptoms such as a cough, fever, or weight loss, or become infected and not show any symptoms, which is latent TB, wherein TB can persist in the body for up to 30 years. This latent aspect of TB is not seen in COVID-19, which spreads quickly, and most people show symptoms in four or five days, which can overwhelm healthcare infrastructure. Moreover, the coronavirus is still a relatively new disease; scientists are still trying to understand the severity of the disease and its effect on people, as there is a broad spectrum of disease severity, from asymptomatic to gravely ill. Most cases of TB are reported from developing countries with poor health and socioeconomic infrastructures, like India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa, and it is also endemic where there is a high incidence of HIV infection. In more developed countries, tuberculosis is less common; in 2019, the United States recorded 8,920 cases of TB out of the 10 million cases worldwide. The occurrence of TB in developed countries is so low that it cannot be compared to COVID-19. Therefore, measures like lockdown and mask-wearing will not be implemented in all countries for TB like it has been for COVID-19. In areas where TB is prevalent, certain preventative measures can help reduce the spread of the disease, but because the speed of transmission and the impact TB has on a person is not the same as COVID-19, most countries do not implement these measures. Therefore, the post is misleading because it does not take into account the key differences between the two diseases and the impact they have on people. The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.

While Tuberculosis kills millions, it is not deadlier than COVID-19, and geographic, socioeconomic and public health context is lacking in this claim.According to a viral Facebook post, "10 million people contracted Tuberculosis last year. 1.5 million people DIED". "Did you even know? Were you scared for your life?" The claim implies that various COVID-19 measures, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and lockdowns, were not implemented for tuberculosis (TB) despite its deadliness. However, the claim is missing some key context.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.8 billion people are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), the bacteria that causes TB. In 2019, 10 million fell ill from TB, and 1.4 million died. As of December 21, there are over 75 million cases of COVID-19 in the world, and nearly 2 million people have died from the virus, which means that COVID-19 is actually deadlier than TB.

Moreover, the claim does not consider geographical distribution, socioeconomic disparity, and transmission and how these differences dictate what measures are taken by countries to tackle the diseases.

While TB and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, there are some differences. A bacterium causes tuberculosis; a virus related to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, SARS-CoV, causes COVID-19. Both spread through close physical contact. USA TODAY notes that "TB usually spreads in hours, and for COVID-19, it's a virus with very short interaction, (which) results in the spread of the infection." There are two TB-related conditions – latent TB infection and TB disease. When exposed to TB, a person can either develop TB disease with symptoms such as a cough, fever, or weight loss, or become infected and not show any symptoms, which is latent TB, wherein TB can persist in the body for up to 30 years. This latent aspect of TB is not seen in COVID-19, which spreads quickly, and most people show symptoms in four or five days, which can overwhelm healthcare infrastructure. Moreover, the coronavirus is still a relatively new disease; scientists are still trying to understand the severity of the disease and its effect on people, as there is a broad spectrum of disease severity, from asymptomatic to gravely ill.

Most cases of TB are reported from developing countries with poor health and socioeconomic infrastructures, like India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa, and it is also endemic where there is a high incidence of HIV infection. In more developed countries, tuberculosis is less common; in 2019, the United States recorded 8,920 cases of TB out of the 10 million cases worldwide. The occurrence of TB in developed countries is so low that it cannot be compared to COVID-19. Therefore, measures like lockdown and mask-wearing will not be implemented in all countries for TB like it has been for COVID-19. In areas where TB is prevalent, certain preventative measures can help reduce the spread of the disease, but because the speed of transmission and the impact TB has on a person is not the same as COVID-19, most countries do not implement these measures.

Therefore, the post is misleading because it does not take into account the key differences between the two diseases and the impact they have on people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.

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