The World Health Organisation, WHO, has revealed plans to establish a Vaccine Accelerator Council to speed up the licensing and use of effective novel vaccines against tuberculosis.
WHO also identifies tuberculosis as the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19 (above HIV/AIDS) and the 13th leading cause of death.
The WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, while announcing the creation of the TB council on Wednesday at a high-level panel during the World Economic Forum, explained that the new council would bring together global agencies, funders, governments and end users in identifying and overcoming barriers to TB vaccine development.
In his opening remarks, Ghebreyesus noted that one of the most important lessons from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is that innovative health interventions can be delivered fast if they are financed adequately and prioritised politically.
“The challenges presented by COVID-19 and TB are different, but the ingredients that accelerate science, research and innovation are the same, urgent, support from philanthropy, engagement of the private sector and communities and up-front public investment. We believe the TB field will also benefit from similar high-level coordination.”
While the disease is curable and preventable, the global health agency noted that despite global commitments to end tuberculosis by 2030 and the 2018 political declaration on the fight against TB, the epidemic shows no sign of slowing down. In 2021, about 10.6 million fell sick with the disease, and 1.6 million died from it. Drug resistance continues to be a major problem as close to half a million people develop drug-resistant TB yearly,” it added.
The world body noted that countries would meet for a UN High-Level Meeting later this year to review progress on commitments made in the 2018 political declaration on the fight against tuberculosis in order to correct setbacks in the response to the virus.
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