Quest for vaccine to beat TB by 2035

From a TB clinic in Cape Town, the Guardian reports on the quest for a new TB vaccine that lays at the heart of the Stop TB Partnership’s  new Global Plan to Stop TB ambition to end tuberculosis as a public health threat by 2035.

Yoliswa Qaku, a mother from Cape Town, had her son vaccinated against TB in infancy, and believed that he was protected against TB for life. She did not understand why other vaccinated children in her neighbourhood continued to fall ill with TB, until her son was asked to participate in a vaccine trial. She now understands that the BCG offers only limited protection, which is why some 9 million people fall ill with TB each year, despite widespread uptake of the BCG.

“Unless we have a vaccine, we will not be able to eliminate TB,” said Dr Lucica Ditiu, the executive director of the Stop TB Partnership. “We will drop the numbers down. We will save many lives. But we will not eliminate. The vaccine is the only solution.”

However, the route to an effective TB vaccine is beset with problems: there are few candidates coming through the drug development pipeline; there is no consensus about whether a vaccine should be given before someone even breathes in TB bacteria, or to prevent latent TB from becoming active; and money for TB is in short supply.

This lack of priority for TB, the article concludes, has not just slowed the search for a vaccine, but also helped catapult TB to the top of the list of deadliest diseases.

Read the full article on The Guardian website

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