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New tuberculosis vaccine doesn't protect infants

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 4, 2013 at 7:46 am •  Published: February 4, 2013
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LONDON (AP) — The world's most advanced tuberculosis vaccine failed to protect babies against the infectious disease, according to a new study in South Africa.

The vaccine, MVA85A, was designed to improve protection from the only existing tuberculosis vaccine, BCG, which is routinely given to newborns. Though the new vaccine appeared safe, scientists found no proof it prevented tuberculosis, an airborne disease that kills more than 1 million people worldwide every year.

Previous tests of the vaccine in adults had been promising and researchers said the trial provided useful data to inform future studies. There are a dozen other TB vaccines currently being tested.

Some health officials were discouraged by the results. "It's pretty disappointing," said Dr. Jennifer Cohn, a medical coordinator at Doctors Without Borders, who was not part of the study. "Infants are at really high risk of TB but this doesn't seem to offer them any protection."

MVA85A was developed at Oxford University and was tested in nearly 2,800 infants in South Africa who had already been given a BCG shot, between 2009 and 2011. About half of the babies got the new vaccine while the other half got a placebo.

They were followed for up to three years. In the group that got the vaccine, there were 32 cases of TB, versus 39 cases in the group that got a placebo. The vaccine's efficacy rate was about 17 percent.

No serious side effects related to the vaccine were reported.

The study was paid for by Aeras, the Wellcome Trust and the Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium. The results were published online Monday in the journal Lancet.

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