The 20th century was witness to revolutionary inventions and public health advances. Think you know about yesterday’s innovations and today’s obsolete technology, and what replaced it? Take the quiz below and learn just why it is so amazing that the TB vaccine endures!
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The TB Vaccine – tomorrow’s obsolete technology
The bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine used against TB has existed for over 90 years and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines. It was first used medically in 1921, and was created by two researchers working at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. The TB vaccine is effective against disseminated TB in children, but it prevent primary infection and, more importantly, does not prevent reactivation of the disease later in life. It is the only available vaccine against the disease, even though we think it belongs in the pantheon of obsolete technology.
[bctt tweet=”To #endTB, we need a 21st century TB vaccine! Let’s commit to #makeTBobsolete this #WorldTBDay!”]
Essentially, public health workers are being forced to use an aged, ineffective vaccine for want of a better alternative. And this, for a disease that was contracted by 9.6 million people in 2014 and was responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million more. It seems incomprehensible that we have not been able to deliver a newer, more effective TB vaccine.
Research funding back by political will
Diseases like polio and smallpox were finally overcome because there was serious investment put into finding and disseminating a vaccine. Researchers all over the world are right now working in clinical trials and basic research to discover a new TB vaccine. There is no reason why we cannot commit to funding this crucial research into a new and better TB vaccine now, other than political will.
The political will to end TB was evident in New York in 2015 when it was agreed as part of the sustainable development goals to commit to end TB by 2030. What we need now is for governments to back this up with public investment in new and innovative approaches to R&D for diseases like TB. Only by increasing the money available to researchers, and by making easier for them to access it, are we likely to see the emergence of a truly effective TB vaccine. Only when we have an effective and protective TB vaccine are we likely to be able to meet our targets for 2030.
That’s what, on World TB Day, we are calling on governments in Europe and the rest of the world to step up their support for R&D on diseases of poverty, to make the current TB vaccine just another obsolete technology, and to work with us to #makeTBobsolete.