New Report by TAG and Stop TB: TB R&D Funding Perilously Off Track of UN Commitments to End TB by 2030

5 December 2023, New York & Geneva  - new report released today by Treatment Action Group (TAG) and the Stop TB Partnership has found that cumulative funding for tuberculosis (TB) research and development (R&D) over the past five years is falling shockingly short of commitments. The $4.7 billion funding total reached for the period 2018-2022 is less than half of the $10 billion pledged by world leaders at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB (HLM) in 2018.
Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death globally by an infectious disease, with 1.3 million people dying and 10.6 million falling sick from the disease in 2022. TB science stands on the precipice of delivering game-changing new tools to eliminate TB, including new vaccines, but development to-date has been severely delayed by ongoing under-investment.
Without an unprecedented mobilization of resources, the world will remain perilously off-track of making good on this historic commitment to finally defeat history’s deadliest infectious disease – with an additional 6.6 million TB deaths by 2030 estimated if the status quo is maintained.
Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends 2005 – 2022, the 18th annual installment of our series assessing the state of TB R&D, is based on a survey of biomedical research funders conducted by TAG with support from Stop TB Partnership. Key findings from the report include:

  • Global funding for TB R&D was $1 billion in 2021 and $1.03 billion in 2022 – barely half of the $2 billion annual target agreed at the 2018 HLM.
  • Current R&D funding levels are insufficient to produce and roll out the new tools needed to find, treat, and prevent the 10 million new cases of TB each year.
  • Spending on TB vaccine R&D was a whopping 80% short of targets set by Stop TB Partnership’s 2018–2022 Global Plan to End TB.
  • Funding for drugs and diagnostics lagged behind targets by 75% and 35%, respectively.
  • Funding from just two organizations – the United States National Institutes of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – accounted for over half of all expenditures on TB research in 2022.

 “We need governments, and particularly G20 countries, to show the same urgency to develop new TB vaccines and tools that they did during the COVID pandemic, where they mobilized over $100 billion dollars for COVID vaccine research,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership. “I’m calling on governments to launch a focused TB R&D fundraising campaign to ensure we have the funding needed to roll out a new TB vaccine by the end of 2027 and the tools needed to ensure we can end TB by 2030.”

Global funders must play catch-up to compensate for years of underfunding and allocate a minimum of $5 billion annually to TB R&D between now and 2030, as agreed by world leaders two months ago at the second UN High-Level Meeting on TB in September.
To reflect this increased need, TAG and Stop TB have updated what we’ve coined as “fair share funding targets,” calling on each country to allocate 0.15% of its overall R&D expenditures toward TB R&D (up from 0.1% in previous years, a benchmark met only by Peru in 2022). There is also a clear gap in private sector funding, whose cumulative investments from 2018 through 2022 made up less than 10% of overall TB R&D spending.
Nearly 70% of total R&D contributions in 2022 came from the public sector, but those resources do not guarantee equitable access to the results of research in the absence of strong pro-access rules attached to funding. "Innovation truly matters when it reaches those who need it most. Governments must take decisive steps to ensure that the knowledge and products arising from public funding lead to tangible benefits for the communities affected by TB, rather than solely benefiting pharmaceutical companies," emphasized Yvan Jean Patrick Agbassi, Co-Chair of the Global TB Community Advisory Board.
Recent scientific advancements have shown that ending TB by 2030 is possible, but political will must be summoned to do it.

“Realizing the universal human right to science demands widescale mobilization of necessary resources to create and implement the best possible tools,” said Mark Harrington, Executive Director of Treatment Action Group. “Governments, researchers, health workers, and civil society know how to do this. They’ve spent years declaring the urgency of ending TB. Now it’s time for countries to invest what it takes to fulfill that promise.”