By Dr T V Venketasawaran and Jyoti Singh
New Delhi: Scientists hope to have a formidable weapon against tuberculosis in the form of a new vaccine very soon.
Called VPM 1002, the vaccine is based on the BCG vaccine that is in use. Only, it promises to be more powerful and efficacious. BCG provides protection to children and not to young people or adults. The new vaccine promises to overcome this problem.
Director in-charge of National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) in Chennai, Dr Srikanth Prasad Tripathy, expressed confidence that the new vaccine promises to pass muster and become available for public use soon.
Image: Director in charge of National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis in Chennai, Dr Srikanth Prasad Tripathy.
If proved successful, the new vaccine would be a boon for India. The country carries the highest burden of TB. Every year 10.4 million new cases are detected worldwide and out of that 2.8 million are estimated to be in India.
Dr Tripathy notes, “In 2000, we had a TB incidence of 289 per lakh population in India. It has reduced to 217 per lakh of population this year. However, as per the goal set by World Health Organisation under the End TB Strategy set we should have reached a level of 55 per lakh population by 2015 itself. We have a long way to go”.
Besides the clinical trial for the new vaccine, several efforts are underway to tackle the growing problem of drug resistance in the country. It is estimated there are about 4.5 lakh multi-drug bacterial resistant (MDBR) TB cases worldwide and that of them, about 1.3 lakh cases were in India.