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World TB Day: Honouring Progress and the Potential of the BCG Vaccine

World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, observed annually on March 24th, serves as a global call to action to raise awareness about the devastating impact of TB and renew our commitment to ending this ancient disease. As we commemorate this day, it's essential to reflect on the strides made in TB prevention and treatment and to recognize the pivotal role of vaccines in the fight against TB. In this blog post, we'll delve into the significance of World TB Day, highlight progress in TB control, and culminate with the development of the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine.


Reflecting on Progress:

World TB Day provides an opportunity to acknowledge the progress made in TB control efforts worldwide. Improved diagnostics, treatment regimens, and public health initiatives have contributed to a decline in TB incidence and mortality rates in many regions. Global partnerships and political commitments have further catalysed efforts to combat TB, saving countless lives and mitigating the impact of TB on communities. However, challenges such as drug resistance, inadequate access to care, and stigma persist, underscoring the ongoing need for innovation and collaboration in TB control.


The Role of Vaccines in TB Control:

The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine has long been recognised as a cornerstone of TB control efforts, offering a powerful tool for preventing TB infection and disease. The BCG vaccine was developed in the early 20th century has been in use for nearly a century. The BCG vaccine is derived from a weakened strain of Mycobacterium Bovis, a bacterium closely related to Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB.


The BCG Vaccine - Past, Present, and Future:

The BCG vaccine has played a crucial role in TB prevention, particularly in high-burden settings where TB transmission rates are high. While BCG vaccination does not provide complete immunity against TB, it has been shown to protect against severe forms of TB in children, such as TB meningitis and disseminated TB. Additionally, BCG vaccination may have non-specific effects on the immune system, offering protection against other infectious diseases.


Looking to the future, efforts are underway to optimise the BCG vaccine and develop next-generation TB vaccines with improved efficacy and durability. Researchers are exploring novel vaccine candidates and vaccination strategies aimed at enhancing TB protection and addressing the limitations of current vaccines. These efforts hold promise for advancing TB control efforts and bringing us closer to the goal of TB elimination.


As we observe World TB Day, let us honour the progress made in TB control and recommit ourselves to the fight against TB. Vaccines, including the BCG vaccine, have been instrumental in reducing the burden of TB, but there is still much work to be done. By investing in research, strengthening health systems, and addressing social determinants of health, we can build on past achievements and work towards a future where TB is no longer a threat to global health. Together, we can make TB history.


References:

  1. World Health Organization (WHO). (2023). World Tuberculosis Day. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-tb-day

  2. Stop TB Partnership. (2023). World TB Day. Retrieved from https://stoptb.org/events/world_tb_day/

  3. World Health Organization (WHO). (2023). Global Tuberculosis Report. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240040014

  4. World Health Organization (WHO). (2022). Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/bacille-calmette-gu%C3%A9rin-(bcg)-vaccination

  5. Mangtani, P., Nguipdop-Djomo, P., Keogh, R. H., et al. (2014). The duration of protection of school-aged BCG vaccination in England: a population-based case-control study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 43(1), 197–205. doi:10.1093/ije/dyt223

  6. Roy, A., Eisenhut, M., Harris, R. J., et al. (2014). Effect of BCG vaccination against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in children: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 349, g4643. doi:10.1136/bmj.g4643

  7. Colditz, G. A., Brewer, T. F., Berkey, C. S., et al. (1994). Efficacy of BCG vaccine in the prevention of tuberculosis: Meta-analysis of the published literature. JAMA, 271(9), 698–702. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510330076038

  8. World Health Organization (WHO). (2022). WHO End TB Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/teams/global-tuberculosis-programme/the-end-tb-strategy

  9. Kaufmann, S. H. E., Weiner, J., & von Reyn, C. F. (2017). Novel approaches to TB vaccine development. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 56, 263–267. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2017.01.022

Safe Travels Clinic - BCG Tuberculosis (TB) Vaccination Centre

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Zia Gaff
Zia Gaff
Mar 31
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great post, thanks for sharing.

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