EDITORIAL: the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic should not divert us from the long term public health emergency
that is childhood tuberculosis. Better access to TB diagnosis and care for children living in high burden
and resource limited countries should remain a top priority.
Since December 2019, a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in Wuhan, Hubei province, China and has
rapidly spread to the rest of the world. WHO has declared Covid-19 a pandemic and public health emergency
of international concern. The pandemic has drastically hit France but has also spread to all TB-Speed project
participating countries. As of September 4, 2020, there were 274, 19604, 18208, 338220, 4207, 3353, and 12523
reported in Cambodia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia, respectively.
The epidemic itself and the country restrictive response measures seriously affected the TB-Speed project implementation.
From April 1st 2020, enrolment was put on hold in all TB-Speed studies and enrolment launch in the
TB-Speed Decentralisation study was postponed in 4 out of 6 countries. However, thanks to the reactivity of the
TB-Speed teams and support from funders and country partners, we were able to implement a mitigation plan
to support our partners in response to the pandemic, to ensure the safety of study participants and personnel,
and to guarantee the data integrity.
Children are less likely to present severe form of the Covid-19, but the Covid-19 pandemic contributes to worsen
their already poor access to paediatric TB services due to countries’ lockdown, change of health care priorities,
fear and stigma from both people and healthcare workers. Despite the difficult situation, enrolment resumed
in the TB-Speed studies from mid-June in some countries and the intervention was launched in the TB-Speed
decentralisation in July. In addition, ANRS approved funding of the TB-Speed Covid ancillary study that will bring
more evidence about the prevalence of SARS-COV-2 infection among vulnerable children in Africa and South