What We’re Reading: Tuberculosis Cases Rise; Racial Disparities in Paxlovid Treatment; Cancer Death Rates Decline

The number of tuberculosis cases has risen by 4.5% from 2021; Black and Hispanic patients with COVID-19 were less likely to receive paxlovid in 2022; a new report highlights declines in US cancer death rates between 2015 and 2019.

WHO Declares Rise in Tuberculosis Cases

The number of tuberculosis cases has risen 4.5% from 2021, leading to 10 million worldwide cases and 1.6 million deaths, according to The Associated Press. The numbers came from a new World Health Organization (WHO) report, which also found that the number of people who have been infected with drug-resistant tuberculosis has increased 3.0% since 2020. The WHO said that the COVID-19 pandemic may be to blame, claiming that progress in diagnosis and treating tuberculosis has “slowed, stalled, or reversed.” Tuberculosis is considered the second most deadly infectious disease after COVID-19. Prior to the rise, the WHO reported that the number of newly infected people with tuberculosis fell form 7 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.

People of Color Less Likely to Receive Paxlovid

According to a new CDC report, patients of color were less likely to receive paxlovid and other COVID-19 treatments in 2022, despite higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalization and deaths compared with White patients. As reported by CNN Health, the new study showed that Black patients with COVID-19 were 36% less likely to be treated with paxlovid compared with White patients, and Hispanic patients were 30% less likely to receive the antiviral pill compared with non-Hispanic patients. The study also found racial disparities in prescribing other treatments such as molnupiravir, remdesivir, and bebtelovimab, but these treatments were less frequently prescribed in general vs paxlovid. The study did not directly assess reasons for these disparities, although the authors noted general disparities in health care access are likely contributing factors.

Downward Trend in US Cancer Deaths

The American Cancer Society’s Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer showed a downward trend in overall US cancer death rates among men, women, children, teens, and young adults, USA Today reported. Based on pre–COVID-19 data, the report also showed a decline in cancer deaths among every major racial and ethnic group between 2015 and 2019. Cancer deaths decreased by 2.1% for men and women between 2015 and 2019. Additionally, the annual cancer death rate decreased by 2.3% for men and 1.9% for women.

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