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TB Booster Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Month In South Africa

A new two-year trial to test a tuberculosis vaccine aimed at boosting the efficacy of the BCG vaccine is scheduled to begin soon in South Africa, IRIN reports (IRIN, 6/4). The vaccine candidate, called MVA85A, will be tested next month in 2,874 children younger than age one. The new tests will be the “first concept trial of a new preventative TB vaccine for infants in close to 90 years,” according to Reuters.

The vaccine’s inventor, Helen McShane of the University of Oxford, said, “All of the clinical trials conducted to date with this vaccine have shown that it is safe and it stimulates high levels of the type of immune response we believe is protective against tuberculosis” (Roelf, Reuters, 6/4).

The vaccine has already been given to infants in Gambia who experienced no side-effects other than brief periods of “mild discomfort,” as well as irritation and swelling at the injection site, which is usually associated with childhood immunizations, Michele Tameris, study manager for the trial, said (IRIN, 6/4).

The Reuters article also addresses the global search for a TB vaccine and writes that MVA85A is the “most clinically advanced” of nine vaccine candidates. It includes information about TB worldwide and the number of TB cases in South Africa, which has the “world’s highest TB incidence rate,” according to the WHO (Reuters, 6/4).

The IRIN story examines the challenges and opportunities involved with testing a vaccine on infants (IRIN, 6/4).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.