A new vaccine for tuberculosis, the first in 100 years, could save 8.5 million lives.
The vaccine, which has been in the works for years, has received funding of USD 550 million — from the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, and the global charitable organisation, Wellcome — to conduct final, phase 3 clinical trial.
Developed by GlaxoSmithKline, M72/AS01E, the new TB vaccine, proved to be 50 percent effective in the phase 2b trials that were conducted in 2018.
Here’s all you need to know.
About The Phase 3 Trial:
The trial is set to begin early next year, and last between 4-6 years.
It will involve 26,000 participants from 50 sites in Southeast Asia and Africa.
With a 50 percent efficacy, the vaccine could prevent up to 76 million cases and 8.5 million deaths over 25 years, said the World Health Organization.
Don’t We Already Have a Vaccine Against TB? Yes. we do. The Bacille Calmette-Guérin or BCG vaccine was introduced in 1921, but it has its limitations.
For one, it is effective in preventing severe TB in babies and young children, but isn't so effective against the more common type that affects adults. Even in children, it's efficacy lasts only a few year.
Could This Really be A Game Changer? Possibly. 1.6 million people lost their lives to TB in 2021, most of them belonging to low or middle-income countries. Not just that, globally over 10 million people suffer from TB.
What Industry Experts Are Saying: Bill Gates, the co-chair of the Foundation heralding the vaccine, said, "With TB cases and deaths on the rise, the need for new tools has never been more urgent. Greater investment in safe and effective TB vaccines, alongside a suite of new diagnostics and treatments, could transform TB care for millions of people, saving lives and lowering the burden of this devastating and costly disease."
"TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases. The development of an affordable, accessible vaccine for adults and adolescents would be gamechanging in turning the tide against TB."Julia Gillard, the chair of Wellcome
What Next? The Gates foundation aims to welcome onboard global governments to participate in this initiative for public health worldwide.
(Written with inputs from the Guardian and Reuters.)