Can Vaccines Turn the Tide Against Tuberculosis in India?

High Hopes, Grim Reality

Tuberculosis in India. So, back in 2018, India set its sights on a big goal: wiping out pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, way ahead of the UN’s deadline. But things are not looking as rosy as they hoped.

India’s TB Struggle

The World Health Organization (WHO) dropped a truth bomb – in India, every two minutes, someone dies from TB. India’s shouldering the heaviest TB burden globally, with a whopping 27% of diagnosed TB cases and nearly half of the multi-drug resistant infections in 2022.

The Vaccine Quest

Sure, testing and treatment are crucial, but India’s also banking on a TB vaccine. Since 2019, scientists have been playing around with two vaccines in seven research hubs. But making a TB vaccine isn’t a walk in the park.

The Vaccine Dilemma

Dr Marcel A Behr from Canada’s McGill University Health Centre points out the tricky part – we’re not entirely sure what the ideal TB vaccine should do. Should it whip up antibodies or specialized T-cells? Tough call.

Testing, Testing

The trouble doesn’t stop there. TB tests can’t tell if an infection’s current or past. It’s like a yes for ‘had TB,’ but a no for ‘still got TB.’ Not helpful, right?

Trial Time

But hold up! The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is on it. They’re eyeballing household contacts of TB patients for four years, monitoring to see if they develop TB themselves. The goal? To check the risk of catching TB from living with an infected person.

The Vaccine Candidates

So, they’ve got VPM1002, a modified DNA vaccine, and Immuvac, a heat-treated TB bacteria vaccine, in the ring. These babies are meant to rev up the immune system against TB.

A Lengthy Wait

Now, some experts like Dr Behr think the trial’s dragged on too long. Usually, in a place where TB’s everywhere, a successful vaccine should show results in a year or two, they reckon.

More Than a Vaccine Fix

But here’s the thing: TB’s more than just a disease. It’s tied to social, economic, and behavioral stuff. Poor living conditions and nutrition make folks more susceptible to TB.

Challenges Galore

India’s got a DOTS program for free TB treatment, but crowded public hospitals and less effective systems push many TB patients to private healthcare. Plus, cash given to TB patients for treatment might not be enough.

Nutrition Matters

Getting good grub helps! A study suggests that good nutrition can slash TB cases among contacts of patients. So, it’s not just about vaccines; it’s about good nutrition too.

The Dream Trio: Testing, Nutrition, and Vaccination

Ideally, experts say we need a triple threat to beat TB: top-notch testing and treatment, rock-solid nutrition, and a vaccine that not only prevents but also stops TB from spreading.

So, while India’s banking on a vaccine to kick TB’s butt, it might need more than just that. It’s a complex puzzle that needs a combo of strategies to finally say bye-bye to TB.

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