Statement on the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day
Today, on World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, Johnson & Johnson stands in solidarity with the patients, health care workers, industry partners, NGOs and governments on the frontlines of tackling infectious diseases around the world.
As a global community, we are facing an unprecedented crisis – the COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic—and Johnson & Johnson is deeply engaged in a multi-pronged response to the outbreak. We are working in close collaboration with global partners to advance the development of therapeutics and working to develop a potential vaccine, leveraging proven technology used to develop and manufacture our Ebola vaccine and to construct our Zika, RSV and HIV vaccines.
The emergence of this new pathogen brings into sharp focus the need to remain vigilant against epidemic threats, not only those that are emerging, but also those that are entrenched. Like COVID-19, TB is also an airborne, contagious disease that primarily affects the lungs—and is the world’s deadliest infectious disease.
National health care systems—in both developing and developed countries—are being put to the test by COVID-19 in unprecedented ways. As the disease and its effects continue to worsen, the need to improve and strengthen health care systems—to tackle COVID-19 and other ongoing health challenges—is coming into sharp focus. This gap will be felt even more acutely in resource-limited settings with weak health systems, where most TB patients live.
As we’ve begun to hear, TB patients and survivors are understandably concerned about COVID-19—and their bodies’ ability to fight the disease. Current patients face acute respiratory challenges, while survivors face the disease’s long-term effects, which can include severe lung damage due to scarring or surgery.
As a global community, we must stay focused and vigilant to protect those most at risk from emerging threats, like COVID-19, and entrenched epidemics, like TB. This means we must do our part to “flatten the curve” to help avoid overloading fragile health systems. It means doing what we can, now and in the future, to strengthen health systems and empowering and enabling frontline health workers to meet patients’ needs. It also means innovating to find new ways of reaching patients now and to develop new tools to combat pandemic threats in the future.
Johnson & Johnson has been a committed partner in the fight against TB for nearly two decades. And we are taking this knowledge and experience to the fight against COVID-19. As the world confronts the challenge of battling multiple respiratory diseases simultaneously, we remain committed to working with our partners to deliver lifesaving treatments to patients, boost sustainable health system capacity, and support our health care workers on the frontlines.
If we work together and think bigger, smarter and more creatively than ever, we can and we will outsmart epidemics.