A TB vaccine trial is moving on to the the final phase of human trials and is hoped to provide protection against a disease that kills millions of people every year.
The results of the Phase 2b human trial were announced at The Union conference in Hydrabad, India.
“A vaccine is the ultimate prevention tool and the announcement today is welcome news, but as researchers discuss how to move the trial into its final phase, we simultaneously need to be doing all we can to prevent tuberculosis with medications that we already have at our disposal,”said Dr Paula I Fujiwara, Scientific Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) in a statement.
WHO estimated in 2018 that 10 million people contract TB a year. The disease kills around 1.5 million people every year, with India and South Africa being among the worst effected countries. According to GlaxoSmithKline, the vaccine was tested at 11 sites in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia in over 3,500 HIV-negative adults with latent tuberculosis infection.
While there is already a vaccine, the BCG jab, it is often ineffective, leaving patients to get infected and still needing to go on treatment. TB treatment, despite improvements, is arduous and painful for those who receive it. The best drugs available still need to be taken for six months and multi-drug resistant TB treatment is even more taxing.
But while the final phase is being planned, availability of the vaccine is far off in the future.
“It is likely that the vaccine will need to be tested in additional populations, and possibly bigger trials before it will be licensed. Assuming the data holds up in the remaining trials, which seems likely, this vaccine has the potential to revolutionise TB treatment,” Dr. David Lewinsohn, a TB expert, told BBC.
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