WHO calls upon interested pharmaceutical companies to consider developing new TB vaccines

WORLD – In an open letter, Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, director, WHO Global TB Programme, addressed the need to have a vaccine that is functional to adults and adolescents as well.

Dr. Tereza has challenged the need for political commitments to be increase as it was the case for the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

WHO is also joining partners, civil society and affected people & communities around the world in calling for increased and sustained investments in TB vaccine development.

The only existing vaccine, BCG was developed in 1921, 100 years ago and it is only most effective when administered during infancy stage.

Though current trials for the vaccines are underway, their approval for use is estimated to come in the foreseeable future. A duration the world can not afford to wait owing to the fact that the disease is still considered a pandemic.

Just a couple of days ago, Spanish biopharmaceutical company Biofabri and IAVI, an international nonprofit research organization focused on developing vaccines and antibodies against infectious and neglected diseases partnered to determine the efficacy trials of their TB vaccine candidate MTBVAC.

The candidate, designed by the Spanish researcher Dr. Carlos Martin from the University of Zaragoza, was in-licensed and is being manufactured and developed by Biofabri, a subsidiary of the Zendal Group, in collaboration with University of Zaragoza, IAVI, and Europe-based Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI).

MTBVAC is expected to complete Phase II evaluation this year and is one of the most promising new TB vaccines in the pipeline.

“The urgency of global COVID-19 vaccine rollout is deservedly receiving unprecedented attention. At the same time, this global focus on disease control is an opportunity to go the extra mile and try to stamp out TB, which, once COVID-19 recedes, will resume its position as the leading cause of infectious disease deaths globally,” said Dr. Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI.

The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) has committed to support a Phase III trial of MTBVAC in newborns, scheduled to begin in several African countries in 2021. IAVI will support the development and further resource mobilization for MTBVAC, including for an adolescent/adult trial. TBVI will also support the ongoing trial preparations.

Should MTBVAC be shown to be safe and efficacious, Biofabri in partnership with IAVI will ensure that MTBVAC is manufactured and supplied in sufficient quantities to neonates, infants, adolescents, and adults and is accessible at affordable prices in low- and middle-income countries.

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