The Union’s latest resources, guidance and information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sign up for the latest on COVID-19 from The Union, including webinars, fast-tracked research, FAQs, official guidance and more.

Latest information about COVID-19

FAQs on COVID-19 and lung health

The Union has published a set of frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and lung health, focusing on its impact on TB services and the people undergoing TB treatment, and guidance to maintain quality care throughout this period, as well as recommendations and guidance for healthcare workers treating smokers with COVID-19.

COVID-19 and tuberculosis: Frequently Asked Questions.

COVID-19 and smoking: Frequently Asked Questions.

Scientific brief on smoking and COVID-19

The Union’s Tobacco Control Department has produced a scientific brief analysing the current science—and any related controversies—regarding COVID-19 and smoking. This brief includes an overview of the latest science, enumerating trends, key findings and study flaws before delving into specific publications. It will be updated regularly to include any new studies that shed additional or new light on the fundamental questions. The most recently revised document now delineates three critical stages along the COVID-19 disease spectrum and explains where evidence stands regarding the impact of smoking. 

The Union's scientific brief on COVID-19 and smoking: updated 5 August

Previous briefs

COVID-19 and smoking: 18 May - 1 June

COVID-19 and smoking: 1 June - 29 June

COVID-19 and smoking: 29 June - 17 July 

COVID-19 and smoking: 17 July - 5 August

The Union's official guidance

Protocol for The impact of COVID-19 on TB and HIV services: A public health surveillance project in three African countries

The Union’s Centre for Operational Research has made publicly available a protocol for a project in sub-Saharan Africa to determine the impact of COVID-19 on TB case detection and HIV testing, diagnosis and care through strengthened real-time surveillance.

The Union’s brief on financing public health preparedness for pandemics

COVID-19 is having a profound effect on public health, public health systems and economies. This Union brief recommends that countries raise tobacco tax in order to fund public health and emergency response systems, and to reduce tobacco use. Download in English.

Guidance for healthcare workers on tobacco use and COVID-19

Issued by The Union and partners in EnglishFrenchSpanish and Portuguese

Deadly Partners - Tobacco and COVID-19: A call to action for governments

Union paper on COVID-19 and its association with NCDs, tobacco use, smoking and vaping, with urgent actions for governments in English, French, Spanish, ChinesePortugueseBahasa Indonesian, and Burmese.

APCAT Tobacco and COVID Information

Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Tobacco Control and NCDs Prevention (APCAT), for which The Union is the secretariat, has issued the following guidance on COVID-19, including the role of Mayors and Members of Parliament throughout the crisis and lessons from Singapore. Download the document in English.

IJTLD fast-tracked articles

In order to share scientific research of immediate concern as rapidly as possible, The Union is fast-tracking accepted articles from the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) regarding COVID-19 and publishing them in full on our website, prior to their publication in the Journal.

How to manage children if a second wave of COVID-19 occurs

A letter to the editors of the IJTLD arguing that we should avoid restrictions on children’s lives during any new waves of COVID-19 – and avoid school closures.

Adapting TB services during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mumbai, India 

A letter to the editors of the IJTLD on adaptations to TB services to ensure continuity of services for RR/MDR-TB during COVID. 

Impact of COVID-19 on TB care: experiences of a treatment centre in Nigeria

Letter to the editors giving an early view into the impact of COVID-19 on TB diagnosis in Nigeria, a high burden setting for TB.

How COVID-19 can instruct TB research: ensuring the safety of researchers exposed to infectious disease

A letter to the editors of the IJTLD which highlights the need to mitigate the risk of researchers being exposed to TB and other airborne pathogens. 

COVID-19 and TB control in immigrant communities

Letter to the editors highlighting the disparity of impact of COVID-19 and TB on immigrant communities and the need to have affordable healthcare. 

How TB and COVID-19 compare: an opportunity to integrate both control programmes

This letter highlights similarities and differences between TB and COVID-19, and proposes that control programmes unite to address both conditions.

Responding to COVID-19: adjusting TB services in a low-burden setting

The Victorian Tuberculosis Program describes how the social and programmatic changes to TB services brought on by COVID-19 have been experienced in practice.

COVID-19 in Africa: community and digital technologies for tuberculosis management

This letter explores the concerns about the negative impact that COVID-19 will have on the fight against tuberculosis in Africa, and the steps that can be taken to respond.

A decrease in tuberculosis evaluations and diagnoses during the COVID-19 pandemic

This letter looks at the implications and potential consequences of delayed or missed diagnoses for TB, which may increase TB-related hospitalisations and death.

COVID-19 and tuberculosis—threats and opportunities

Editorial highlighting the need to protect TB services, but also to use the opportunities COVID-19 research affords us to achieve a paradigm shift in TB treatment and care.

Severe COVID-19 cases with a history of active or latent tuberculosis

Authors report on symptom development, disease progression and treatment for three cases, each representing a different TB scenario.

Common concerns in managing bronchial asthma during the COVID-19 pandemic

The use of corticosteroids and nebulised bronchodilators in bronchial asthma is a major concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. This letter to the editors looks at several issues that need to be addressed. 

Effect of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and smoking on the outcome of COVID-19

A study investigating the association between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, smoking and the potential for poor outcomes in patients with COVID-19.

New devices could transform COVID-19 patient treatment and protect health care workers

Two innovative new devices, a negative pressure procedural tent and a portable helmet device, have the potential to protect healthcare workers and transform the care of COVID-19 patients across the globe. 

COVID-19 in Africa: preparing for the storm

In response to COVD-19, Africa should develop robust collaborative research programmes, funded by African governments and partners, to include epidemiological, health system, implementation, clinical trials, immunological and virological research.

Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine and the COVID-19 pandemic: responsible stewardship is needed

Live attenuated BCG is currently the only licensed vaccine to protect against tuberculosis.

Transforming essential services for tuberculosis during the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons from New York City

In response to the surge in COVID-19 cases in New York City (NYC), the NYC Health Department has transformed the way they deliver TB care to patients. 

Successful treatment of patients severely ill with COVID-19

Article describes a prospective observational study to better illustrate the clinical features, treatment challenges and outcomes of patients severely ill with COVID-19 presenting to Suzhou 5th Hospital, Suzhou, China, between January 8 and February 11 2020

Concern over a COVID-19-related BCG shortage

Unnecessary BCG vaccination as a treatment for COVID-19 could lead to a supply shortage for infants, increasing their chances of TB infection and threatening their survival.

Mask wearing to complement social distancing and save lives during COVID-19

Mass wearing of masks would help to maximise the effect of social distancing in slowing down the exponential growth of the epidemic, and allow sufficient time to reinforce our health care facilities and salvage countless lives.  

Impact of COVID-19 on tuberculosis services in India

The impact of COVID-19 on TB services in India, including the availability of key equipment and the safety of health care workers  

Sustaining essential healthcare in Africa during the COVID19 pandemic

In developing a response to the threat of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which is stretching hospital services worldwide to their limits, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of essential primary healthcare. 

How to demystify COVID-19 and reduce social stigma

Social stigma is a side effect of conventional contact tracing. The authors describe an health educational approach from Northern Sardinia which could help to reduce stigma and demystify COVID-19. 

Cloth face covers – a sustainable measure to mitigate COVID-19

While surgical masks remain scarce, the authors recommend using cloth masks or other face coverings to reduce the spread of infection to others

Collaboration in TB and COVID-19 control in Moscow

In Moscow the challenge is to recognise the similarities between the TB and COVID-19 epidemics, but also to adapt the medical and socio-economic interventions to address the differences.

Preparing national tuberculosis control programmes for COVID-19

Zimbabwe is an example of a high HIV and TB burden setting that is under threat from COVID-19, and is used to demonstrate how TB control programmes might adapt to COVID-19.

Predictive models for COVID-19-related deaths and infections

A new model is proposed for predicting COVID-19-related deaths and infections that can be easily applied worldwide for making better strategic choices. 

Helping Africa to breathe when COVID-19 strikes

In Africa, alternative equipment solutions should be considered to address the needs of people who become critically ill with respiratory failure.

Serology-positive but minimally symptomatic COVID-19 may still cause lung injury and lung function impairment

Cas report showing that a minimally symptomatic COVID-19 patient may still be contagious, and that the residual lung injury and lung function impairment can last for more than 1 month. Follow-up evaluation is necessary for COVID-19 patients regardless of the severity of symptoms.

Critical changes to services for TB patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

Key adaptations to TB service delivery should be considered in high TB burden settings to support TB patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tackling the threat of COVID-19 in Africa: an urgent need for practical planning

For countries in Africa, to tackle the threat of COVID-19, it will be crucial to quickly develop a practical national plan with clear objectives and strategic interventions.

Monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa: focusing on health facility admissions and deaths

African countries should think ahead to the data that will be needed in their health facilities for monitoring COVID-19 and how best this can be collected. This will go some way to helping health services cope with the pandemic. 

Adapting a TB contact investigation strategy for COVID-19

Contact investigation is an important strategy to detect and isolate infection sources and reduce continuing transmission. In this letter the authors propose a strategy for SARS-CoV-2 screening and contact tracing in settings with low levels of community transmission. 

Impact of COVID-19 on tuberculosis control in China

The changes introduced to combat COVID-19 (i.e. restricted movement and change in role of TB hospitals) are a major barrier to patients with TB symptoms seeking health care, with an inevitable delay in diagnostics. The prolonged time spent indoors further accelerates its transmission among household contacts.

Impact of the global COVID-19 outbreak on the management of other communicable diseases

COVID-19 is increasingly the top differential diagnosis in any person with a fever and/or cough regardless of duration, leading to a prompt chest radiograph and isolation of at-risk patients with testing of SARS CoV-2. While such practices mitigate the outbreak, we urge the medical community not to forget other communicable diseases, where appropriate, in the differential diagnoses of patients.  

New diseases and old threats: lessons from tuberculosis for the COVID-19 response

Complementary COVID-19 and TB responses can assist in curbing both epidemics to save lives. Both diseases can utilise the capacity building efforts, along with surveillance and monitoring systems, programmes and infrastructures, diagnostic tools, case-finding strategies and infection control measures and many other lessons to quickly curb the spread. 

Let us not forget the mask in our attempts to stall the spread of COVID-19

Health authorities worldwide have advised that face masks are somewhat effective in limiting the spread of infection when worn by a person who is infected with COVID-19 but do not protect a person who is not infected. However, authors of this editorial argue that face masks, when used systematically in a community, do help slow the spread of the virus.


Webinar series: COVID-19 and lung health

The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the greatest healthcare challenge of a generation. The Union, in collaboration with its global community of members, is pleased to launch an open-access webinar series on COVID-19 and its intersection with tuberculosis (TB), tobacco control, lung disease and more.

Upcoming webinars: 

Thursday, 13 August, 16:00 - 17:00 CEST
Desafios no enfrentamento da TB-COVID-19: situação em Moçambique, manifestações clínicas em adultos e diagnóstico sorológico
Portuguese language webinar
Register here

Thursday, 27 August, 14:00 - 15:00 PM CEST
Advancing the fight against childhood pneumonia in LMICs
Speakers will highlight recent literature on epidemiology, diagnosis, clinical signs, risk stratification, pulse oximetry, treatment approaches, including CPAP, clinical trials, air pollution, stakeholder perspectives and prevention efforts, as well as the latest on COVID-19 as a cause of pneumonia in children.
Register here

Past webinars:

For recordings of all past webinars visit The Union Courses online

Tuesday, 28 July, 13:00 – 15:00 CEST
Rôles et responsabilités dans la réponse au Covid-19, aux maladies non transmissibles (MNT) et au tabac
French language webinar

Thursday, 16 July, 15:00 PM - 16:00 CEST
COVID-19 transmission, similarities and differences with other respiratory pathogens
Speaker: Mark Jackwood, University of Georgia
Moderator: Liliana Salvador, University of Georgia, USA

Thursday 9 July, 14:00 - 15:00 CEST
Caring for Carers - stigma awareness, attention and response This webinar will discuss the importance of stigma in health care facilities and amongst health care providers, and how to recognise and effectively address it. Recognising and addressing stigma in health care facilities and improving the well-being of care providers offers possibilities to create an environment free from fear and discrimination – both for the facility users as well as care providers. 

Friday 10 July, 2:00 - 3:00 AM CEST
Where Bans Are Best: LMICs Must Prohibit E-cigarettes & HTPs to Tackle Tobacco
Expert speakers will discuss The Union's new position paper Where bans are best: Why LMICs must prohibit e-cigarettes and heated tobacco product sales to truly tackle tobacco which considers the potential impact that novel products could have on low- and middle-income countries. 

Wednesday 1 July, 12:00 - 13:00 CEST
Preserving TB and TB-HIV services in the face of an unprecedented pandemic in Africa
This Union member-led webinar builds on this IJTLD article, describing the TB and COVID-19 situation in Zimbabwe, and discussing safeguarding the provision of TB and collaborative TB-HIV services in Africa. Recent international guidance on TB-HIV care during COVID-19 will also be reviewed.

Portuguese language webinar: Qua, 01 Jul 2020 às 16:00 - 17:00 CEST
A luta contra a dupla carga de TB e COVID-19 no Brasil
Facilitadores: Anete Trajman (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro) e Anna Cristina Carvalho (Fiocruz, MS). Apresentadores: Dr Denise Arakaki, Ministério da Saúde, Prof Ethel Leonor Maciel, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Carla Almeida, CCAP-TB/Brasil.

Tuesday 23 June, 16:00 - 17:00 CEST
TB preventive therapy: recent advances and future prospects
Moderated by Karin Turner, the speakers will include Gavin J Churchyard amongst others.
Watch the recording

Spanish language webinar: Mié., 24 de Jun. de 2020 16:00 - 17:45 CEST
Fumar en tiempos de COVID-19
Los facilitadores serán el Dr. Gustavo Zabert y el Lic. Gustavo Sóñora. 
Los expositores serán la Dra. Laura Llambí, el Dr. Rogelio Pérez Padilla y el Dr. Carlos Jiménez Ruiz. Con comentario especial del Dr Eduardo Bianco.
Ver la grabación 

Thursday 18 June, 14:00 - 15:00 CEST
COVID-19 and TB: Personal perspectives
Kate O’Brien and Ezio Tavora Dos Santos Filho, both TB survivors, will chair the discussion. The panellists will be: Claire Forlani, film and television actor and Union Ambassador. Dr Purna C. Kashyap, a COVID-19 survivor, based in the USA. Ms Athira Elssa Johnson, who is currently receiving treatment for TB, and living in Kerala, India. Dr Thato Mosidi, XDR TB survivor, who lives in South Africa.
Watch a recording of the webinar

Wednesday 10 June, 14:00-15:00 CEST
Monitoring the COVID-19 Pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa: paying attention to health facility admissions and deaths
Speakers:  Former Union President Jeremiah Chakaya, Leo Martinez, Anthony D Harries.
Watch a recording of the webinar

Spanish language webinar: jueves 28 de mayo, 10:00-11:00 CDT
Desafíos para enfrentar la interferencia de la Industria Tabacalera en tiempos del COVID-19

Moderadores: Gustavo Sóñora y Cristiane Vianna
Participación especial: Dra Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva
Expositores: Silvana Rubano Turci, Jorge Vega Cárdenas, Rodrigo Bolaños
Ver la grabación

Wednesday 20 May, 16.00-17:00 CEST
Panel discussion: How to prevent 1.4 million deaths: Advancing TB care and prevention in the time of COVID-19
Moderator: Victoria MacDonald, Channel 4 news
Panellists: Lucica Ditiu, Stop TB Partnership, Marijke Wijnroks, The Global Fund, Tereza Kasaeva, WHO, Cheri Vincent, USAID, Catharina Boehme, FIND, José Luis Castro, The Union, Subrat Mohanty, The Union
Watch a recording of the webinar

French-language webinar: mercredi 20 mai, 14.00-15.00 CEST
COVID-19 et prise en charge de la tuberculose en Afrique Francophone
Modérateurs : Kobto Ghislain Koura et Bertrand Kampoer
Topic 1. COVID-19 : Considérations pour la prise en charge de la tuberculose. Présentateur : Dennis Falzon
Topic 2. Comment la communauté peut aider les PNT dans le contexte du COVID-19. Présentateur : Edouard Kambou Sansan
Topic 3. COVID-19 : Expérience du PNT du Bénin. Présentateur : Wachinou Prudence
Watch a recording of the webinar

Tuesday 12 May, 15.00-16.00 CEST
Respiratory protection against TB and infectious diseases (including COVID – 19) transmitted by airborne and droplet spread
Chairs: Amanda Christensen, Australian Respiratory Council and Niesje Jansen, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation 
Speakers: Dr Carrie Tudor, International Council of Nurses, Dr Grigory Volchenkov, Vladimir Regional Tuberculosis Control Center, End TB Transmission Initiative (ETTi)
Watch a recording of the webinar.

Tuesday 12 May, 10.00-11:30 CEST
APCAT Webinar: Government accountability in responding to COVID-19, NCDs and Tobacco Use
Moderator: Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service & Coordinator - APCAT Media
Speakers: Khagraj Adhikari, Member of Parliament, Nepal and Chair-APCAT Parliamentarians; Shameem Haider Patwary, Member of Parliament, Bangladesh; Bima Arya Sugiarto, Mayor, Bogor City Indonesia; Han Kosal, Deputy Governor, Kampong Cham, Cambodia; Jose Martinho Dos Santos Soares, Mayor Ermera City, Timor-Leste; Vinayad Prasad, World Health Organisation; Tara Singh Bam, Deputy Regional Director, The Union Asia Pacific.
Watch a recording of the webinar.

Thursday 7 May, 12.00-13.00 CEST
COVID-19 and Tuberculosis:  Finding Synergies to Advance the Fight.

Speakers: Dr KS Sachdeva (TBC), Indian NTP, Dr Masoud Dara, WHO Regional Office for Europe, and Dr Eliud Wandwalo, The Global Fund, Switzerland.
Watch a recording of the webinar.

Thursday 30 April, 12.00-13.00 CEST
Programmatic Management of TB in High Burden Countries During Initial COVID-19 Response
Chairs: Dr Grania Bridgen, The Union and Dr Francesca Conradie, Helen Joseph Hospital
Speakers: Dr Dennis Falzon, WHO, Dr Vivian Cox, and Dr Norbert Ndjeka, National TB Programme of South Africa
Watch a recording of the webinar.

View all past webinars on Union Courses Online.

·         Thursday, 13 August, CEST, 16:00 - 17:00 CEST


Partner information and guidance

Information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly. Please refer to the guidance from the World Health Organization (WHOand the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest information.

The International Aids Society has published guidance on HIV and COVID-19.

The Infectious Diseases Society of Southern Africa (IDSSA) has published Operational guidance on service delivery to TB patients (drug-susceptible and drug-resistant) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings has written a book for children around the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: My Hero is You

Scientific brief from WHO: Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination and COVID-19

Partner sponsored content

The Union presents a series of special webinar sessions, organised and paid for by our partners to showcase new science and new areas of work.

All paid for sessions are reviewed for compliance with The Union’s mission and vision.

Tuesday 11 August, 12:00 – 13:00 PM CET 
The twin epidemics of TB and COVID-19: challenges and controversies
Register now

This webinar is paid for and created by Oxford Immunotec. 

Oxford Immunotec logo