World TB Day 2023: YES! WE CAN END TB

24 March 2023

On this year’s World TB Day, EDCTP joins its global partners in the belief that we can end the tuberculosis epidemic. The urgency is clear, as TB has reclaimed its position as the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent after COVID-19 briefly overtook it. High-level leadership, increased research investment, concerted action and reducing health inequities are key ingredients to achieve the complex but attainable goal to end TB.

Between 2019 and 2021, the number of people receiving TB treatment decreased – largely due to COVID-19 related lockdowns. In 2021, 61% of people with TB were receiving treatment, compared to 69% in 2019. Overall, COVID-19 related disruptions to TB control programmes caused an increase in TB cases and TB deaths, and a decline in global TB spending.

“People underestimate the burden TB has on our societies, leading to a belief that TB is not as serious as other respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and other causes of pneumonia. That is an illusion.”

Dr Thomas Nyirenda, EDCTP Strategic Partnerships and Capacity Development Manager

The 2018-2022 global targets to respond to the global TB epidemic recommended that US$ 1.3bn per year was needed to achieve them. An assessment of the shortfall is urgently required as the total global investment in TB control fell from US$6.0 billion in 2019 US$5.4 billion in 2021, which is less than half what is needed annually.

EDCTP investments in TB

Ultimately, TB control will require affordable, short, effective and well-tolerated treatments for all forms of TB (i.e., latent TB infection, drug-susceptible and drug-resistant TB disease), point-of-care diagnostic tests able to characterise drug resistance, and an effective vaccine. The EDCTP portfolio on TB has a strong focus on diagnostics, although multiple projects are addressing TB treatments. Several major vaccine development projects are also being supported. Important goals are to improve methods of TB detection and monitoring of response to therapy, and to shorten the duration of treatment.

Between 2014 and 2022, EDCTP has invested EUR 213.50 million in TB clinical trials, capacity building and talent development. In the 2021 Report on TB Research Funding Trends, a publication of the Treatment Action Group, EDCTP was identified as the second largest public funder of TB research and the third largest funder of TB research overall.

EDCTP investment in TB research 2014-2021

Overcoming key barriers to TB vaccine R&D and implementation

As well as investing in TB research, EDCTP and the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD) launched the Global TB vaccine R&D roadmap, also published in The Lancet. It identifies priorities for the development and implementation of new TB vaccines with the aim to coordinate and accelerate global action. The roadmap was developed in close collaboration with the World Health Organization.

TB vaccines: funding and coordination

EDCTP has awarded €51.18 million to four collaborative research projects that are developing TB vaccines for use in vulnerable populations, including newborn infants and adolescents. To enhance the coordination and collaboration between these projects and future EDCTP TB vaccine-funded research, EDCTP initiated a coordination project that is being implemented by the TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI). The overall goal of the project is to maximise the output and impact of the research funded by EDCTP while contributing to the development of EDCTP’s strategy and the global TB vaccine portfolio.

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