Core-NB studies the impact of TB and HIV on COVID-19 outcomes

We are delighted to announce that we have just added a new project to the LINQ portfolio, Core-NB, coordinated by Prof Stefan Niemann of Research Center Borstel, Germany. The project aims to answer critical questions concerning COVID-19 disease epidemiology in the context of low-resource countries with high rates of tuberculosis (TB) and HIV, focusing on Namibia and Botswana.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of society and presented an unprecedented challenge to public health worldwide. The novel coronavirus spread fast in high-resource countries in early 2020. Consequently, COVID-19 diagnostics and research were first set up in these settings.

A year and a half later, there is still a knowledge gap on the effects of TB and HIV on the outcomes of COVID-19 – both TB and HIV impair the host immune response to infectious diseases. Understanding how these three pandemics interact is crucial to reduce transmissions and ensure that COVID-19 patients with a coinfection receive the best possible treatment.

A two-part study to improve general knowledge about TB/HIV and COVID-19 co-infections 

Core-NB aims to generate knowledge about COVID-19 disease epidemiology in the context of low-resource countries with a high burden of TB and HIV, focusing on Namibia and Botswana. The consortium will document how the virus spreads within susceptible populations in these two countries. 

The project includes two studies that will be conducted sequentially. The first study will follow the WHO protocol for household transmission investigations in the context of COVID-19. It will explore transmission frequency and describe the clinical spectrum of the disease. Samples collected will also serve as the basis for COVID-19 molecular epidemiology and host immunological response. 

The second study will evaluate the presentation, diagnosis and clinical characteristics of individuals presenting to sentinel health facilities in Namibia and Botswana.

A highly collaborative project 

Core-NB is a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary project, with investigators from Namibia and Botswana working closely with colleagues in Europe. The consortium will also work with an NGO in Namibia, Health Poverty Action, to support rapid implementation. 

LINQ supports the management of the project, working closely with the coordination team at Research Center Borstel. We will also contribute with our vast experience in capacity building and support the Core-NB consortium in their efforts to develop and sustain skills and knowledge for diagnostic testing and COVID-19 sequencing in Namibia and Botswana. 

Core-NB was launched on September 1 this year and will run for 18 months.