Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, revealed intentions to establish a new TB Vaccine Accelerator Council on Tuesday.
Dr. Ghebreyesus stated this during a high-level TB panel at the World Economic Forum, noting that the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tuberculosis services has highlighted the need of vaccine research efforts.
He stated that the Council would facilitate the licencing and use of effective innovative tuberculosis vaccines by catalysing high-level alignment among funders, global organisations, governments, and end users in identifying and addressing TB vaccine development bottlenecks.
“One of the most important lessons from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is that innovative health interventions can be delivered fast if they are prioritised politically and financed adequately,” said Ghebreyesus.
“The challenges presented by TB and COVID-19 are different, but the ingredients that accelerate science, research, and innovation are the same: urgent, up-front public investment; support from philanthropy; and engagement of the private sector and communities. We believe the TB field will benefit from similar high-level coordination,” he added.
According to the WHO, in 2021, approximately 10.6 million people fell sick with TB, and 1.6 million died and drug-resistance continues to be a major problem with close to half a million people developing drug-resistant TB every year.
It stated that the BCG is currently the only licensed TB vaccine.
“While it provides moderate efficacy in preventing severe forms of TB in infants and young children, it does not adequately protect adolescents and adults, who account for close to 90 per cent of TB transmissions globally.”
The UN body said, later this year, Heads of States and Governments would meet for a second United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB to review progress against commitments made in the 2018 political declaration.
The meeting will present an important opportunity to correct setbacks in the TB response, which includes the urgent development and delivery of new TB vaccines.
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