Establishment of an acceleration council for TB vaccines

The BCG vaccine is currently the only approved TB vaccine. Illustrative photo Bigstock

The negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on TB services has clearly demonstrated that there is an urgent need to intensify efforts to develop a vaccine.

In this regard, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced the creation of an acceleration commission for tuberculosis vaccines. This body will promote the registration and use of new effective TB vaccines by mobilizing high-level donors, international organizations, governments and end users to identify and overcome barriers to the development of these vaccines.

“One of the most important lessons to be learned from the response to the Covid-19 pandemic is that innovative health measures can be implemented quickly if they are politically prioritized and funded enough.” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. . “The challenges of TB and Covid-19 are different, but the ingredients that enable science, research and innovation to advance faster are the same: urgent public investment, support from philanthropists, and private sector and community engagement. We believe that TB action will benefit from such high-level coordination. »

Although countries have made ambitious commitments to end TB by 2030 in the Sustainable Development Goals, the WHO End TB Strategy and the 2018 End TB Political Declaration against TB, the epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. In 2021, about 10.6 million people developed TB and 1.6 million died from it. Drug resistance remains a major problem, with nearly half a million people developing drug-resistant TB every year.

Increase the effectiveness of the vaccine

The BCG vaccine is currently the only approved TB vaccine. Admittedly, it is moderately effective in preventing severe forms of tuberculosis in infants and young children, but does not provide sufficient protection for adolescents and adults, who account for almost 90% of the world’s transmission cases.

A study commissioned by the WHO and just published entitled The Case for Investment in New Tuberculosis (TB) Vaccines estimated that over 25 years, a vaccine that is 50% effective in preventing the disease in adolescents and adults will prevent up to 76 million new TB cases, avert 8.5 million deaths, provide 42 million courses of antibiotic treatment, and save US$6.5 billion in equivalent costs to affected households, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

A 75% effective vaccine could prevent up to 110 million new TB cases and 12.3 million deaths. The study also found that every dollar invested in a vaccine that is 50% effective can generate a $7 return on investment through reduced health care costs and increased productivity.

Later this year, heads of state and government will convene at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis to review progress towards meeting commitments made in the 2018 Political Declaration. This is an important opportunity to reverse some of the setbacks in TB control that will need to be urgently developed and delivery of new vaccines against this disease.

Source: L Orient Le Jour

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