The catastrophic economic cost of global coronavirus lockdowns will take years to calculate. But, more importantly, the actual death toll of the lockdowns will be much higher than the reported COVID-19 deaths, too. Many people are dying from diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV because they are unable to get diagnoses, treatment, and medication due to the lockdowns in nearly every country.
The countries hardest hit are in Africa, South America, and Asia. The global coronavirus response is draining coffers usually used for the fight against malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. The lockdowns are depriving people of much needed treatments. The poorest nations, the ones that can least afford COVID-19 lockdowns are the ones taking the most devastating hit.
Much effort, time, and money over the years has been spent to help countries fight against TB, malaria, and HIV and numbers were improving, but doctors are now concerned that 2020 will set them back 20 years in their progress against these diseases.
Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, the director of WHO’s global malaria program said:
COVID-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago.
Lockdowns and fear have caused people to stay away from the clinics that can help them. According to New York Times writer Apoorva Mandavilli:
Fear of the coronavirus and the shuttering of clinics have kept away many patients struggling with HIV, TB and malaria, while restrictions on air and sea travel have severely limited delivery of medications to the hardest-hit regions.
Due to the coronavirus response, the lack of diagnoses, and the inability to get necessary medicines and treatment will kill more people than the coronavirus. Mandavilli explains the possible death toll:
According to one estimate, a three-month lockdown across different parts of the world and a gradual return to normal over 10 months could result in an additional 6.3 million cases of tuberculosis and 1.4 million deaths from it.
A six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy may lead to more than 500,000 additional deaths from illnesses related to HIV, according to the WHO. Another model by the WHO predicted that in the worst-case scenario, deaths from malaria could double to 770,000 per year.
Globally, 10 million people contracted TB in 2018 and 1.5 million people died. Malaria infected 228 million people and killed 405, 000 that same year. Over 38 million people are living with HIV.
In 2018, 770,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses. This number has reduced by more than 55% since the peak of 1.7 million in 2004 and 1.4 million in 2010.
At the time of this writing, over 18 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, and 660,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide.
Lockdowns may or may not be helping slow the coronavirus outbreak, but they are definitely harming efforts to reduce the number of deaths from the equally deadly diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV.
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