100 years of a Tuberculosis Vaccine with Limited Benefit
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Jul 29, 2021
On July 18, 1921 (100 years back), a newborn infant in Paris became the first person to get an experimental dose of the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine for tuberculosis. A century later, it’s now the most generally used vaccine in the world. It is also still the only approved vaccine for the disease.
Mark Feinberg, President and Chief Executive Officer at the International Aids Vaccine Initiative (a nonprofit research organization that generates vaccines and antibodies for TB, HIV, and other rising infectious diseases), says,
- “It has been a generous global access success story. The vaccine is low-priced, it is extensively available, and the existing programs for immunization of children are pretty well-grounded.”
- But the vaccine has notable limitations, Feinberg said and hasn’t stopped the condition from being the second-leading cause of death among other infectious illnesses worldwide in 2020, following COVID-19.
- He said, “The vaccine certainly saved many people’s lives, but it is far away from an optimal vaccine.”
- “TB killed half as numerous people as COVID did in the last year. It’s sort of striking how little the world has prioritized the improvement of a TB vaccine.”
Promising Research for Eliminating Tuberculosis
- Almost a century after the first TB vaccine was administered, groundbreaking studies in recent years — including for many vaccine candidates in late-stage clinical trials — are determining that a better vaccine is possible.
- One research in South Africa revealed that revaccinating adolescents with BCG as a booster dose significantly decreased new TB infections.
- Another study demonstrated that two shots of the M72/AS01E vaccine candidate could decrease the development of TB with 50% efficiency in adults with latent infection. This is the first vaccine since BCG to prevent TB disease in people who were previously exposed to it.
- Analysis for the MTBVAC vaccine candidate using rhesus macaques (a species of monkey) discovered this year that it protects better than the BCG vaccine against aerosol exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria causing TB.
While some of these researches are considered to produce initial results over the next two to three years, some will take a little longer to more clearly explain their effectiveness.
Even with these advancements, the pipeline for vaccines is relatively “sparse,” given the restrained funding.
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