Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Hepatol. Jul 27, 2021; 13(7): 781-789
Published online Jul 27, 2021. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v13.i7.781
Impact of coronavirus disease 2019 on prevention and elimination strategies for hepatitis B and hepatitis C
Syed Tabish Rehman, Hareem Rehman, Shahab Abid
Syed Tabish Rehman, Hareem Rehman, Shahab Abid, Department of Medicine, The Aga Khan University, Karachi 74800, Pakistan
Author contributions: Rehman ST performed the majority of the writing, prepared the figures and did literature search; Rehman H performed majority of literature search a substantial amount of writing; Abid S designed the outline of the manuscript and did the final formatting.
Conflict-of-interest statement: There is no conflict of interest associated with any of the authors who contributed their efforts to this manuscript.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Shahab Abid, MBBS, PhD, Professor, Department of Medicine, The Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, PO Box 3500, Karachi 74800, Pakistan.
Received: February 22, 2021
Peer-review started: February 22, 2021
First decision: May 3, 2021
Revised: May 9, 2021
Accepted: June 23, 2021
Article in press: June 23, 2021
Published online: July 27, 2021

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in significant morbidity and mortality since its first case was discovered in December 2019. Since then, multiple countries have witnessed a healthcare system collapse due to the overwhelming demand for COVID-19 care. Drastic measures have been taken globally in order to curb the spread of the virus. However, those measures have led to the disruption of other aspects of healthcare, increasing the burden due to other medical conditions. We have also stepped back in achieving the ambitious goal set in place by World Health Organization to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public threat by 2030. Hepatitis B and C are chronic conditions with a significant worldwide burden, and COVID-19 has resulted in many hepatitis elimination programs slowing or stopping altogether. In this review, we elucidate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the interventions targeted towards the elimination of hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus. Some of the salient features that we have covered in this review include hindrance to screening and diagnostic tests, neonatal vaccinations, the transmission dynamics affecting hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus, role of limited awareness, restrictions to treatment accessibility, and disparity in healthcare services. We have highlighted the major issues and provided recommendations in order to tackle those challenges.

Keywords: COVID-19, Chronic hepatitis, Review literature, Vaccine, World Health Organization, Pandemics

Core Tip: There has been a multi-fold impact of the pandemic on viral hepatitis elimination strategies. Due to supply chain disruptions, hepatitis B virus vaccination campaigns have been halted. Increased preference for home deliveries, poor antenatal care, and unavailability of at-birth hepatitis B virus vaccine has increased the risk of vertical transmission. With needle-sharing activities on the rise and closure of harm reduction centers, the spread of blood-borne infections including the hepatitis C virus has risen. Hospitals are either being avoided due to the fear of contracting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or are being converted into coronavirus treatment wards, resulting in poor management of patients.