, SHANGHAI, China, Apr 23 – Tuberculosis researchers have pointed out that the most effective way to stop a disease like TB is to prevent its spread.
The researchers converged in Shanghai, China for the 4th Global Forum on TB vaccines said new vaccines are at the centre of future TB elimination efforts.
It is understood that a person with active TB can spread the disease to 10 to 15 people within a year, infecting others simply by coughing or sneezing.
Ann Ginsberg, a chief medical officer at Aeras, a global non-profit biotech advancing TB vaccines for the world said there is an urgent need to stop new TB infections.
Ginsberg said only two options are available to ensure transmission of the disease to others is halted.
She said more focus should be on the development of diverse and robust portfolio of next generation vaccine candidates to prevent infection for the future generation.
“The best ultimately would be to have a vaccine that prevents infection and that is one of the things many of us are working on,” she said.
Ginsberg is also advocating for early detention of the disease and administering urgent medication to the patients to cushion others from being infected, “because it is the adults who live with active TB in their lungs who are spreading infections to people that make the new infections,” she said.
The researchers further stated that while the existing TB vaccine (BCG) protects some children from severe forms of TB, it is unreliable in preventing pulmonary TB which affects adolescents and adults.
A member of the scientific team at the Netherlands-based TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) Tom Ottenhoff said new vaccines would have a major public health impact in combating TB.
“BCG has some effects in infants, it protects infants against severe forms of tuberculosis that may also protect partly against occurring infections, what we don’t know if BCG is also good enough at a later phase of infection, and probably it is not, that is why we need better vaccines to not only prevent TB in infants and children but also in adults,” he said.
Ottenhoff said a vaccine that prevents adolescents and adults from acquiring, developing and transmitting TB would be the single most cost-effective tool in mitigating the disease.
According to Aeras statistics, in the year 2013, 9 million new people became sick with TB, with 1.5 million deaths from the disease.
A partially efficacious preventive TB vaccine for adolescents and adults could avert 30-50 million new cases of TB by 2050 and an additional 7-10 million TB cases in infants.