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Part of WHO’s Tuberculosis Program, A new vaccine against Tuberculosis could save millions of lives.

Scientists have reported that a new experimental vaccine against Tuberculosis (TB) has shown positive results in protecting over half of the patients who have the disease.   

A year before, preliminary trial results of the new vaccine show that 54% of those that were vaccinated with the new vaccine were successfully protected against the disease. And these results were described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a major scientific breakthrough.   

Dr. Mario, a global health expert who previously headed WHO’s global TB program said that “The new vaccine seems promising and likely better than the old Bacillus Calmette Guérin vaccine (BCG).”  

BCG vaccine has successfully protected infants against TB but has not shown success in protecting adults from lung TB which are more common.   

Tuberculosis is known worldwide as the most fatal infectious disease which causes patients’ fevers, weight loss and Hemoptysis (Cough Up Blood) that eventually leads to death.   

The new promising vaccine that was developed by GSK named as M72/AS01E was tested on African patients who have latent TB, showed positive study results when only 13 of those vaccinated with the new vaccine developed active TB three years after.   

Dr. Ismail, Chief of TB research at South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases has described the new vaccine as “reasonably good” for its 50% effectiveness.   

However, despite the good results that the M72/AS01E shows, questions on who should be vaccinated for it to be successful rises as the study was deemed one sided when it was only conducted on those that were HIV negative and have latent TB.   

This is crucial as most people would have been tested positive for latent TB due to the easy exposure to TB germs and there would be a difficulty in tracking the source of TB that patients have contracted.   

Experts suggested that the new vaccine should be further studied and tested on different people in different continents with and without HIV as susceptibility varies.   

This is to better understand if certain variables will affect the effectiveness of the vaccine. 

(Source: The New York Times, 2019)