Impact of COVID-19 on TB epidemiology in South Korea

H. Choi, Y. Ko, C. Y. Lee, S. J. Chung, H. I. Kim, J. H. Kim, S. Park, Y. I. Hwang, S. H. Jang, K. S. Jung, Y. K. Kim, J. Y. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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SETTING: Five referral hospitals, South Korea. OBJECTIVE: To assess epidemiological changes in TB before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: This was a multicentre cohort study of 3,969 patients diagnosed with TB. RESULTS: We analysed 3,453 patients diagnosed with TB prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (January 2016-February 2020) and 516 during the pandemic (March-November 2020). During the pandemic, the number of patients visits declined by 15% from the previous 4-year average, and the number of patients diagnosed with TB decreased by 17%. Patients diagnosed during the pandemic were older than those diagnosed before the pandemic (mean age, 60.2 vs. 56.6 years, P, 0.001). The proportion of patients to have primary TB at a younger age (births after 1980) among those diagnosed with TB was significantly lower during the pandemic than before (17.8% in 2020 vs. 23.5% in 2016, 24.0% in 2017, 22.5% in 2018, 23.5% in 2019; P ¼ 0.005). CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a reduction in the number of visits to respiratory departments, leading to fewer patients being diagnosed with TB. However, our results suggest that universal personal preventive measures help to suppress TB transmission in regions with intermediate TB burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-860
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Programme through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, Information and Communications Technologies, Seoul (No. 2019R1G1A1008692 to HC) and the Korean Ministry of Education, Seoul, Republic of Korea (No. 2021R1I1A3052416 to HC). The funders had no role in the design of the study, the collection and analysis of the data, or the preparation of the manuscript. Conflict of interests: none declared.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Union


  • COVID-19
  • Epidemiology
  • Transmission
  • Tuberculosis


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