After the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin or BCG vaccine was introduced 100 years ago, it remained the lone licensed vaccine for Tuberculosis (TB) to provide moderate protection against severe forms of the disease in infants and young children.
It has been made widely available across countries through immunisation programmes and has played a vital role in saving many young lives and preventing serious illnesses. However, there is no vaccine that is effective in preventing TB disease in adults, either before or after exposure to TB infection. While results from a phase-II trial of the M72/AS01E TB vaccine candidate are promising – from among 14 vaccine candidates in clinical trials, these vaccines are expected to be ready only in the coming years, WHO has said.
“We need to build on lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, and replicate the successes achieved especially in vaccine development and prepare to address the challenges faced in ensuring vaccine equity. As stressed by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the Covid19 vaccine roll out: Vaccine equity is the challenge of our time. The Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, created by WHO and its partners, along with the COVAX facility can enable equitable distribution of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics globally, as well as demand that leaders and vaccine manufacturers ramp up production and equitable distribution. WHO’s call for vaccine, equity is important as we work in parallel on research and development for new TB vaccines,” Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director, WHO Global TB Programme has said.
Kasaeva added, “As we mark the 100 year anniversary of the BCG vaccine, we need to come together to ensure that the world does not have to wait for so long to access vaccines that can save millions of lives. The clock is ticking – the time to invest in TB vaccines is now!”