South Africa: Six Highlights From a Week of Important TB Developments


Last week, researchers, policymakers and activists gathered in Hyderabad, India for the world's leading TB conference. Spotlight picked six of the week's most important stories. By Marcus Low for Spotlight.

M72/AS01E: More good news on experimental vaccine

Probably the most important scientific findings presented this week was the final, three-year follow-up data from the phase II trial of a new TB vaccine called M72/AS01E. The rate of TB disease in study participants who received the vaccine was half of that in study participants who received a placebo. As a number of people pointed out, even a vaccine with just 50% efficacy could have a major impact on the global TB epidemic. The study findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the New York Times did a good write-up of the study.

However, important scientific questions about the vaccine remain unanswered. Most critically for the South African context, the study did not include people living with HIV and children. A confirmatory phase III trial that includes children and people living with HIV is now an obvious priority. When and whether such a study will be conducted remains unclear.

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