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Tuberculosis 100th anniversary: A look at the only vaccine against the disease, its efficacy against COVID

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Tuberculosis 100th anniversary: A look at the only vaccine against the disease, its efficacy against COVID


Tuberculosis 100th anniversary: A look at the only vaccine against the disease, its efficacy against COVID&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Tuberculosis is a respiratory illness caused by a specific bacteria
  • Tuberculosis, also called TB has been around for a century now
  • Even today, millions of people globally lose their lives due to the infection, even as a vaccine against the infection exists

New Delhi: Even as the world tries to adapt with the newest deadly disease that has taken over our lives, COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, we cannot deny that there are at least a handful of other diseases that have already existed for years, that have the potential to cause the same level of damage, if not more, as COVID. One such disease, that has been around for exactly a century now in 2021, is Tuberculosis, also abbreviated as TB. 

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious infection that usually attacks your lungs. It can also spread to other parts of your body, like your brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes it. As per the World Health Organisation fact sheet, a total of 1.4 million people died from TB in 2019. 

Is there an existing vaccine against Tuberculosis?

1.4 million deaths, and millions of new cases within one year, even as a vaccine exists against tuberculosis is a worrisome state of affairs, as per experts. 

In July 1921, the first experimental vaccine against Tuberculosis was administered to an infant in France, after the mother disease from the disease. The vaccine was named Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), and surprisingly, is the same vaccine used even today, after a hundred years. The BCG is also the only vaccine available against tuberculosis. 

How COVID-19 has been handled differently

Contrary to one registered vaccine against a deadly infection called TB, the COVID-19 pandemic has been handled very differently. More than 200 vaccines are currently under development to prevent COVID-19, the disease that has caused the global pandemic. A few vaccines have already been approved for use in various countries, with rollouts already starting. 

In the presence of a vaccine, why do millions still die due to TB?

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, people desperately waited for a vaccine. Everyone thought that once there exists even one safe and effective vaccine against COVID, we will be able to go back to our normal lives. However, when you look at examples of diseases like COVID, that seems a distant dream, because even in the presence of a vaccine, millions of people globally still lose their lives to the deadly infection.

This is because vaccination against TB is administered when a child is young. This reduces the incidence of the infection and deaths due to it among children. However, with time, the effectiveness of the vaccine wears off. Therefore, most people become susceptible to the disease again, by early adulthood. The vaccine does not prevent active lung TB in adults, which puts them at an increased risk of contracting the infection. 

How effective is the BCG vaccine against COVID-19

The only vaccine against tuberculosis has in fact also shown some positive efficacy when it comes to preventing the COVID-19 disease, caused by the novel coronavirus. As per the apex institute of medical research in India, ICMR, the BCG vaccine is likely to help people, especially the elderly, fight COVID-19 disease. In the UK, the BCG vaccine is being tested to see the level of efficacy it can provide against COVID. As per latest reports, the BCG vaccine is safe even for COVID-19, and will not increase the severity of the disease, researchers have suggested. 

The WHO aims to eradicated TB completely from the global population. However, in the absence of even one more vaccine, other than BCG, and more so an effective vaccine for the prevention of TB in adults, it poses a bi healthcare challenge for global medical agencies.

https://www.timesnownews.com/health/article/tuberculosis-100th-anniversary-a-look-at-the-only-vaccine-against-the-disease-its-efficacy-against-covid/708226

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