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Experimental TB Vaccine Does Not Protect Infants, Study Shows

“Hopes that a much needed new tuberculosis [TB] vaccine was on the way, the first for 90 years, have been dashed by trial results showing it did not protect babies against the disease,” the Guardian reports (Boseley, 2/4). “The vaccine, known as MVA85A, is the most advanced of more than a dozen TB vaccines now in clinical trials in people, and scientists are poring over the results to learn why the trial failed and how the results can inform future studies,” Reuters writes (Steenhuysen, 2/4). “The study, reported online by the Lancet on Monday, was conducted in about 2,800 South African infants,” the Washington Post notes (Brown, 2/4). “They were followed for up to three years,” the Associated Press writes, adding, “The vaccine’s efficacy rate was about 17 percent” (2/4). “MVA85A was found to be safe and had no side effects, but ‘did not provide statistically significant protection’ against the TB microbe, the researchers announced,” according to Agence France-Presse (2/4).

“Designed to boost the immune responses that have been primed by the [existing Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)] vaccine, MVA85A has been undergoing human trials for more than a decade, showing it to be safe and to stimulate a high level of immune response in adults,” BBC News notes (Walsh, 2/4). “While the vaccine was unsuccessful in HIV-negative babies, it may still hold some promise for other populations, according to Oxford University’s Helen McShane, who added that researchers are still unsure why the trial failed,” IRIN reports (2/5). “In an accompanying editorial, Christopher Dye of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Paul Fine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said although the results were disappointing they were ‘not a terminal prognosis for MVA85A, or for any of the other tuberculosis vaccines in development,’” BBC adds (2/4).