Improved TB vaccine to be tested in South Africa

A lab technician preparing a culture of TB mycobacteria Copyright: WHO/TDR/Crump

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The first human trials of an improved vaccine against tuberculosis (TB) will begin in Worcester, South Africa, in October, according to an announcement made on Monday (16 August) at a medical conference in Cape Town.

Greg Hussey, of the paediatrics department at the University of Cape Town, said that although the Baccillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) TB vaccine, which has been administered in Africa since the 1960s, protects children from TB meningitis, it is inadequate in other respects. For instance, it is not effective against the more common pulmonary form of TB. In addition, the vaccine’s effectiveness depends on patients’ nutrition, and its safety in HIV-positive children is questionable, said Hussey.

About 50 adults will participate in the forthcoming clinical trial of what Hussey calls a “turbo-charged” version of the BCG vaccine. The announcement of the trial follows a plea made by Nelson Mandela at the 15th International AIDS Conference, held in Bangkok last month, for world leaders not to ignore TB.

Link to full Cape Times news story