Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the oldest infectious diseases in recorded history. TB is preventable, treatable, and curable, but still devastates lives, livelihoods, and economies globally. In the past 200 years, the disease has claimed over a billion lives.
There is currently only one approved TB vaccine, the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, and on 18 July, it will be precisely 100 years old. The vaccine protects against severe forms of TB in infants and young children, but offers poor protection against other forms of TB, TB transmission, and disease in adolescents and adults.
At the United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB in 2018, world leaders committed to delivering new, effective, safe, equitable, and affordable TB vaccines "as soon as possible." But they failed to secure a date or funding for this commitment. We need at least US$550 million per year for new TB vaccines.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further pushed back progress on the global fight against TB by up to 12 years. COVID-19 vaccine research received over US$100 billion in funding last year, compared to $117 million for TB vaccine research in 2019.
World leaders should demonstrate the same leadership shown in developing COVID-19 vaccines to raise hopes that the slow-moving TB vaccines development process can be fast-tracked with strong political commitment, adequate funding, and faster research.
Join us in calling on world leaders to deliver new TB vaccines by 2025 to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target to end TB by 2030.