World TB Day 2016 – it is time that the TB vaccine goes the way of the cassette tape and the floppy disk

adam Press Releases

Brussels, March 23: If the world is serious about defeating TB by 2030, we need to invest heavily in global health innovation to produce a game-changing vaccine

Ahead of World Tuberculosis Day, as the world unites to end TB, DSW is calling for serious political and financial commitment to global health innovation to replace an out of date and ineffective TB vaccine with one that is fit for purpose. Without investment in new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, we will not be able to end the epidemic of TB by 2030.

Speaking on the launch of DSW’s #makeTBobsolete campaign – which is highlighting the fact that drug development for TB has stalled in recent decades, leaving us ill-equipped to defeat TB – DSW Executive Director Renate Baehr said: “It seems incomprehensible, given the technological and medical advances that have been made even in recent decades, that the vaccine we are using to prevent against TB is still the same one that was first introduced almost 100 years ago. If we are serious about ending the global TB epidemic, we need global leaders to commit money today that will deliver us a breakthrough in TB research as soon as possible.”

TB is one of the top infectious disease killers worldwide; in 2014 it was responsible for the death of 1.5 million people, 140,000 of them children. Yet public health workers are administering a TB vaccine that was introduced in 1921 and which is ineffective against many forms of the disease. Research on new TB diagnostic tools needs to be accelerated, given that only about 18% of the estimated global burden of multidrug-resistant TB cases are being detected. If we want to meet our commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals – ending the TB epidemic by 2030 – then governments need to make global health innovation investment a priority, increasing funding and making it easier to access for researchers wherever they might be.

Renate Baehr: “Serious public investment that can deliver not just vaccines, but treatments and diagnostics is what is needed. Examples like the successful fight against polio and smallpox in the past, and even the belated global response to Ebola and Zika, have shown us what can be achieved when political rhetoric is matched with ambition and investment. In particular, we are looking to EU decision-makers to consider how best they can support the global health research community and maximise the impact of EU funding.”


Notes to the editor:

  • Visit www.dsw.org/tbday to find out more about DSW’s #makeTBobsolete campaign and to test your knowledge about other obsolete technologies in our quiz.
  • DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung) promotes universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in low- and middle-income countries. By undertaking SRHR advocacy, developing initiatives, and engaging in capacity development and family planning projects, we improve the health of women and girls living in poverty and empower the youth of today to lead healthy and self-determined lives.
  • According to the latest available WHO data, in 2014, 9. 6million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died from the disease. Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low­ and middle-income countries, and it is among the top 5 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44. In 2014, an estimated 1 million children became ill with TB and 140,000 children died of TB. It is a leading killer of HIV-positive people: in 2015, 1 in 3 HIV deaths was due to TB.
  • Over 20 different TB vaccine candidates are currently in clinical trials at various stages of development and continued research is critical to facilitate and de-risk vaccine product development. Spending on global health innovation to fight diseases of poverty (including TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria) has stagnated since 2008, according to the latest GFinder report; experts have estimated that we will need to double the amount spent on research and innovation, from $3bn to $6bn annually, if we hope to achieve the targets set out in the SDGs.
  • The GFinder 2015 report estimates that the European Commission spend $16 million on research for TB in 2014 (2.8% of the global total spent on TB research in 2014), out of a total expenditure on neglected disease research by the European Commission of $126 million.

Contact for more information:

Eoghan Walsh

Communications Officer, DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung)

Tel: +32 (0) 2 504 90 66

Mob: +32 (0) 485 399 443

E-mail: eoghan.walsh(at)dsw.org