WHO launches plan to speed up development of tuberculosis vaccine

WHO launches plan to speed up development of tuberculosis vaccine

This was announced by the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Formation of a new accelerator council for tuberculosis vaccines along the lines of COVID-19, when an entirely new vaccine was developed in just a year.

As Tedros said during the conference Ending Tuberculosis:how to achieve it?’, to be held this Tuesday as part of the activities of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this council will facilitate the approval and use of new vaccines against tuberculosis and “accelerate coordination between donors, world organizations, governments and patients Identify and overcome barriers to tuberculosis vaccine development“.

Covid lesson

“One of the most important lessons learned from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is innovative health responses can be implemented quickly if they are politically prioritized and adequately funded. The challenges TB and COVID-19 bring are different, but the ingredients that accelerate science, research and innovation are the same: urgent and anticipated public investment, support through philanthropy and engagement from the private sector and communities. We believe the TB space will benefit from similar high-level coordination,” Tedros said.

was not authorized no new TB vaccine in 100 years. In fact, BCG is currently the only approved vaccine against the disease. Although it offers moderate effectiveness in preventing severe forms of tuberculosis in infants and young children, does not adequately protect young people and adultswhich account for about 90% of cases worldwide.

However, the prospects for new effective vaccines are against it Tuberculosis have improved in recent yearswith at least 16 vaccine candidates in development, Tedros recalled.

That’s what the supreme leader of the WHO said many of the tuberculosis vaccines under investigation They were candidates before the pandemic, but “everyone was focused on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, so its development has been accelerated while some tuberculosis has been developing for decades.”

For this reason, Tedros “a renewed commitment and a sense of urgency“to speed up the vaccine against tuberculosis. “It can be developed. If it was made for COVID-19, it’s clear it can be for tuberculosis too. If we use the lessons of COVID-19, this is possible,” he stressed.

Vaccine ‘will change the rules of the game’

A December 2022 study commissioned by the WHO estimated that in 25 years there will be a vaccine with 50 percent effectiveness in preventing tuberculosis in adolescents and adults could prevent up to 76 million new cases8.5 million deaths, 42 million antibiotic treatments and $6,500 million cost to TB-affected households, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable.

With an effectiveness of 75 percent, they could be avoided up to 110 million new cases of tuberculosis and 12.3 million deaths. The study goes on to point this out every euro invested in a vaccine with an effectiveness of 50 percent could generate an economic return of 6 euros in terms of avoided healthcare costs and increased productivity.

Both Indian Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Philippine Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agree that the tuberculosis vaccine could be a “game changer”. “How Vaccines have changed the game in the fight against COVID-19, We advocate for a new TB vaccine to be approved and made available to adults and adolescents in TB-affected countries by 2025. India is fully prepared and at an advanced stage to move forward with this,” Mandaviya said.

Similarly, the director of the Wellcome Trust, Jeremy Farrar, has defended that the tuberculosis vaccine “I would change the rules of the game“But he reiterated that they must be accompanied by other tools such as diagnostic tests or “strong” health systems.

Farrar has affirmed that “for the first time” in his career he feels it’s possible this decade assume “a real change” in the fight against tuberculosis but has urged not to wait for the vaccine. “We don’t know when we’ll have it. Vaccines will change the game, but when integrated into a whole,” he added.

Tuberculosis, “the disease of the poor”

2021 more than 10 million people contracted tuberculosis. Although tuberculosis is a preventable and curable disease, approximately 1.5 million people die from tuberculosis each year, making it the leading infectious cause of death worldwide.

In its annual report published in October, the WHO warned against a 4.5 percent increase in tuberculosis cases in 2021 compared to 2020 due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 10.6 million people fell ill and 1.6 million died (including 187,000 HIV-positive).

Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and usually affects the lungs. It is spread through the air when people with pulmonary tuberculosis cough, sneeze, or spit. A person only needs to breathe in a few germs to become infected.

the Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death in people living with HIV and also one of the main causes of antimicrobial resistance.

Most people who get tuberculosis live in low- and middle-income countries, but it is present all over the world. About half of the people with this disease live in 8 countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa.

As a result of this data, Tedros has denounced that tuberculosis is “the disease of the poor” while rich countries, where it is practically a witness, do not devote enough resources or attention.

It seems that this is not the problem of rich countries. It’s a pattern we’ve seen over and over again. When Ebola reached the borders of rich countries in 2014, the whole world went crazy with just one case. With COVID-19, it was the same reaction. When will we end this behavior? Tuberculosis must be a global problem. The world should start helping all of humanity because we are one big family,” he said.

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In the row, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Peter Sands, has accused rich countries of little progress in fighting the disease: “We should be ashamed. It is a disease that has been with us for a long time and we have shown that it can be eradicated, but we have allowed millions of people in poor countries to continue to get sick and die.”

As a positive aspect, Sands has pointed this out in recent years more “political will” against tuberculosis is perceived. “We have a new generation of tools, the hope of a vaccine, we have better medicines for drug-resistant tuberculosis… But I fear that having better tools will not be enough unless we are determined,” he stressed.