Aeras: The Urgent Need for New TB Vaccines

As part of the Imagine2030 campaign we want to show that innovation is not just something for the future. Biomedical advances being made right now will shape how we fight diseases of poverty in the future, and are delivering changes every day. It will be these advances, and the organisations behind them, that will bring us closer to our goal: an end of diseases of poverty by 2030.

For our focus on Tuberculosis in February 2017, our partners at Aeras share the latest developments in the field of TB vaccines – and why we urgently need innovation to fight the disease. Read on to find out more!

Tuberculosis (TB) has a persistent reputation for being a disease of the past. But in reality, TB kills more people than any other single infectious disease in the world. Today, a third of the global population – more than 2 billion people – are infected with the bacteria that cause TB, and some 10% will get sick and could infect others simply by coughing or sneezing. On average, a person with active TB will spread the disease to 10 to 15 people within a year. TB, especially drug-resistant TB, is a deadly disease and thousands of Europeans are already infected with the bacteria that cause it.

A Global Epidemic and Regional Burden

In 2015 there were 10,4 million cases and 1,8 million deaths from TB disease around the world—and Europe is not immune. In 2015, the European region had 323 000 new cases and 37 000 deaths from TB.

In addition to the health burden, the economic burden of TB is considerable, costing Europe more than €5 billion in treatment and lost productivity each year, much more than the amount it would take to develop a new, more effective vaccine to prevent TB. Although TB treatment success rates in Europe have improved, they were still below global average in 2014, at 76%.

Drug-Resistant TB: Global Threat

The rise in multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) strains is making TB harder to fight and presents a grave threat to health and security in all countries. Drug resistance is especially prevalent in Eastern Europe, where there is a serious MDR-TB epidemic, with one of the highest levels of MDR-TB globally. Nine of 30 countries with a high burden of MDR-TB are in the European region. And the XDR-TB “superbug” strains have now been found in 117 countries.

New Vaccines Must Be Part of the Fight Against TB

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) End TB Strategy both state that a new TB vaccine is key to ending the TB epidemic. A cost-effective vaccine that prevents adolescents and adults from acquiring, developing and transmitting TB would also lead to less reliance on antibiotics—a critical step in fighting the rising threat of drug-resistance. But a successful vaccine will only be possible with continued innovation and investment from around the globe. So as World TB Day approaches, we ask that you put your support behind vaccine research and development, and stand with us in the fight to end TB.

Learn more about Aeras here.

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