Home > Expert Insights, Preventable Diseases, Science & Research > Waiting on a Better Vaccine

Waiting on a Better Vaccine

Today I came across an article that may seem insignificant to some.  It highlighted a highly anticipated study of the first new tuberculosis vaccine in 90 years, only to reveal the disappointing news that the vaccine offered no added benefit over the current vaccine.

So, why is a failed vaccine trial for tuberculosis – something we don’t even routinely vaccinate for in the United States – news at all?

To me, it is a reminder of why we must continue with vaccine research and development.  As vaccine critics complain about the efficacy of vaccines, and we see epidemic cases of flu and pertussis, we’re often reminded that certain vaccines are not as effective as we would like for them to be.  But we can only make them better with scientific advancements and continued research.

And despite what many vaccine critics believe, improving vaccine efficacy is something that scientists and vaccine manufacturers are working hard to improve on.  The following excerpt from today’s Reuters article explains:

The current TB vaccine, known as Bacille Calmette-Guérin, or BCG, was developed in 1921, and is given routinely to babies in countries with high rates of TB to prevent severe disease.  However, protection wears off in just a few years, and BCG does nothing to protect against the most common form of tuberculosis that invades the lungs of adults and adolescents, and can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing.

As we see in this example, trials are conducted on new vaccines, not just to determine safety, but also to ensure efficacy.   This particular research determined that the protection seen in the infants was much lower than had been seen in adults who had tested the vaccine, and they plan to look more closely to understand why.

The important thing to recognize is that even failed trials offer critical information that may help lead to important advancements in the future.

This is the first efficacy trial of a new TB vaccine since Bacille Calmette-Guérin, a significant step in itself, and there is much that we and others can learn from the study and the data it produced.  

And, in case anyone should think differently, not all diseases are the same, and the vaccines created to reduce the effects of these disease often require different methods and approaches.  As the Reuters article elaborates,

With many other infectious diseases, scientists can rely on animal models and protective markers in the blood known as correlates of protection to predict whether a vaccine will work in people. This is not that case with TB, an ancient disease that hides out in the cells of their human hosts.  As a result, TB vaccines must be tested in large clinical trials in people, a large and costly gamble.

Despite these challenges, scientists are continually trying to develop more effective vaccines in order to save lives.  Sadly, the Reuters article states that the global TB epidemic infects 9 million people annually and kills 1.4 million.  This explains why Dr Ann Ginsberg of Aeras, a non-profit biotech based in Rockville, MD, says it would be “a huge mistake for the world to get discouraged by this and give up.”   She goes on to say that TB is “far too urgent a problem” and the current tools “far too inadequate” to address the global TB epidemic.  She says,

“The one thing that could change the game on the TB epidemic is to have safe, affordable and effective vaccines.”

So, even despite the high hopes for this particular vaccine, this failed trial is not a complete failure.  It simply marks one step in the development of something better.  Meanwhile, there are other TB vaccines in development and in large-scale trials.  Let’s hope that they are more successful and that they ultimately result in a more effective vaccine that can offer the world better protection from such a serious and deadly disease.

  1. February 5, 2013 at 10:51 am

    1. What’s in the regular flu shot?

    •Egg proteins: including avian contaminant viruses

    •Gelatin: known to cause allergic reactions and anaphylaxis are usually

    •associated with sensitivity to egg or gelatin

    •Polysorbate 80 (Tween80™): can cause severe allergic reactions,

    •including anaphylaxis

    •Formaldehyde: known carcinogen

    •Triton X100: a strong detergent

    •Sucrose: table sugar

    •Resin: known to cause allergic reactions

    •Gentamycin: an antibiotic

    •Thimerosal: mercury is still in multidose vials

    2. Do flu shots work?

    Not in babies: In a review of more than 51 studies involving more than

    294,000 children it was found there was “no evidence that injecting

    children 6-24 months of age with a flu shot was any more effective than

    placebo. In children over 2 yrs, it was only effective 33% of the time in

    preventing the flu. Reference: Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy

    children.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2 (2008).

    Not in children with asthma: A study 800 children with asthma,

    where one half were vaccinated and the other half did not receive the

    influenza vaccine. The two groups were compared with respect to

    clinic visits, emergency department (ED) visits, and hospitalizations

    for asthma. CONCLUSION: This study failed to provide evidence that

    the influenza vaccine prevents pediatric asthma exacerbations.

    Reference: “Effectiveness of influenza vaccine for the prevention of asthma

    exacerbations.” Christly, C. et al. Arch Dis Child. 2004 Aug;89(8):734-5.

    Not in children with asthma (2): “The inactivated flu vaccine,

    Flumist, does not prevent influenza-related hospitalizations in

    children, especially the ones with asthma…In fact, children who get

    the flu vaccine are more at risk for hospitalization than children who

    do not get the vaccine.” Reference: The American Thoracic Society’s 105th

    International Conference, May 15-20, 2009, San Diego.

    Not in adults: In a review of 48 reports including more than 66,000

    adults, “Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza

    by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one

    day (0.16) days. It did not change the number of people needing to go

    to hospital or take time off work.” Reference: “Vaccines for preventing

    influenza in healthy adults.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

    1(2006).

    Not in the Elderly: In a review of 64 studies in 98 flu seasons, for

    elderly living in nursing homes, flu shots were non-significant for

    preventing the flu. For elderly living in the community, vaccines were

    not (significantly) effective against influenza, ILI or pneumonia.

    Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly.” The Cochrane

    Database of Systematic Reviews. 3(2006).

    Like

  2. February 5, 2013 at 11:53 am

    @(nota)DrS – what does this have to do with research into aTB vaccine?

    And again, your scare tactics involving ingredients in vaccines are thoroughly debunked at:

    http://antiantivax.flurf.net/

    Up to and including the fact that the human body produces more formaldehyde as part of its normal metabolic process in a single day, than is contained in all vaccines given to an individual over their lifespan.

    Please go away & take your pseudo-science with you.

    Like

  3. Barry
    February 5, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I thought Dr. S was a Chiropractor?

    Like

  4. Lawrence
    February 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    @Barry – certainly not a Doctor.

    Like

  5. Barry
    February 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    MD’s and Chiropractor’s have very similar curriculum in medical school

    Medical hours Subject Chiropractic Hours

    508 Anatomy 520
    326 Physiology 420
    401 Pathology 205
    325 Chemistry 300
    114 Bacteriology 130
    324 Diagnosis 420
    112 Neurology 320
    148 X-ray 217
    144 Psychiatry 65
    198 Ob/Gen 65
    156 Orthopedics 225

    2,756 TOTAL HOURS 2,887

    Like

  6. February 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    @Barry – given (nota)Dr.S posts on here, I doubt he ever took an actual medical or biology class. No “doctor” could possibly be as ignorant as he appears to be….

    Like

  7. Gray Falcon
    February 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Barry, “Dr. S” really is a chiropractor, that means that the extra education he received is utterly worthless.

    Like

  8. Chris
    February 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Because if he had any real classes in bacteriology he would not have said some of the things he did about plague and scarlet fever. Also, I am a bit freaked out by a chiropractor doing a gynecological exam. How does that work? If he does not know to give a vaccine, why would we trust him with a speculum?

    Like

  9. Nathan
    February 6, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Uh huh. Because counting up hours is a true representation of the quality of an educational program.

    Hence the common antivaccine refrain of “I’ve spent X hundred/thousand hours researching vaccines.”

    Like

  10. Chris
    February 6, 2013 at 2:22 am

    I did a bit of Googling on chiropractors and gynecology. Yeah, they get lectures, but no actual physical experience. There does not seem to be an intern or residency program for chiropractors. Which is why Dr. S has no idea how vaccines are given, nor lots of other things.

    Can you imagine him doing a Pap smear?

    Like

  11. lilady
    February 6, 2013 at 2:24 am

    How about staying on topic? The subject of this thread is the development of an effective tuberculosis vaccine to replace BCG vaccine is so that babies are really protected from this dreadful disease.

    The reason for providing BCG vaccine to newborns who are born in TB endemic regions of the world is because infants are at extreme risk to develop miliary (disseminated) TB or TB meningitis.

    http://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/factsheets/prevention/BCG.htm

    Like

  12. Chris
    February 6, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Sorry, lilady. The USA never vaccinated for TB because if issues with the vaccine. But the antibiotic resistant form have become much too common, for this disease which is difficult to cure. It is a major part of the book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

    Like

  13. Chris
    February 6, 2013 at 3:18 am

    By the way, I remember getting the tine test in school. They would come by and prick your skin with some pins, then a few days later check for the results.

    When I was in eighth grade there was van parked in front of the school that provided x-rays for the students. It was important for my Canadian friends since they had had the BCG vaccine and the tine test was worthless for them. (this was in the then Panama Canal Zone where there were many international students)

    I was excused because I had just come back to school after being out for five weeks due to pneumonia. I had had several x-rays in the previous months, and I did not need any more.

    Like

  14. lilady
    February 6, 2013 at 3:58 am

    @ Chris: My off-topic comment was not directed at the you or any of the regular posters here.

    You will have mixed results if you rely on Mantoux skin testing for people who have received BCG vaccine. You can test those same people using a blood test, which will not yield a false positive result because of prior BCG immunization. Blood tests can confirm the presence of the TB bacterium in the body

    http://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/testing/default.htm

    I remember those TB tine tests. Parents were told to look for raised bumps within 2-3 days on their child’s arm. They are not used anymore because it was debatable if a measured dose of tuberculin PPD was injected in the forearm. Mantoux testing consists of 0.10 cc tuberculin PPD injected intradermally, and the child must return to the doctor’s office for the doctor or nurse to “read” the result and enter the result in the child’s medical chart. I was Mantoux tested every 6 months when I worked in public health TB clinics.

    Like

  15. February 8, 2013 at 9:24 am

    AWESOME NEW VACCINE! ( this one kills too )

    A new vaccine for influenza has hit the market, and it is the first ever to contain genetically-modified (GM) proteins derived from insect cells. According to reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the vaccine, known as Flublok, which contains recombinant DNA technology and an insect virus known as baculovirus that is purported to help facilitate the more rapid production of vaccines.

    According to Flublok’s package insert, the vaccine is trivalent, which means it contains GM proteins from three different flu strains. The vaccine’s manufacturer, Protein Sciences Corporation (PSC), explains that Flublok is produced by extracting cells from the fall armyworm, a type of caterpillar, and genetically altering them to produce large amounts of hemagglutinin, a flu virus protein that enables the flu virus itself to enter the body quickly.

    So rather than have to produce vaccines the “traditional” way using egg cultures, vaccine manufacturers will now have the ability to rapidly produce large batches of flu virus protein using GMOs, which is sure to increase profits for the vaccine industry. But it is also sure to lead to all sorts of serious side effects, including the deadly nerve disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GSB), which is listed on the shot as a potential side effect.

    “If Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) has occurred within six weeks of receipt of a prior influenza vaccine, the decision to give Flublock should be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits and risks,” explains a section of the vaccine’s literature entitled “Warnings and Precautions.” Other potential side effects include allergic reactions, respiratory infections, headaches, fatigue, altered immunocompetence, rhinorrhea, and myalgia.

    According to clinical data provided by PSC in Flublok’s package insert, two study participants actually died during trials of the vaccine. But the company still insists Flublok is safe and effective, and that it is about 45 percent effective against all strains of influenza in circulation, rather than just one or two strains.

    FDA also approves flu vaccine containing dog kidney cells

    Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039013_flu_vaccine_insect_virus_GMOs.html#ixzz2KJVJmTgE

    Like

  16. February 8, 2013 at 9:32 am

    @(nota)DrS – care to include any citations other than the crank-fest that is “Natural News?”

    Like

  17. novalox
    February 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    @dr.s

    Hmm, plagiarism from natural news, you do know you just violated copyright laws.

    But, given that you have made threats to others here, why am I know surprised that you would break more laws.

    Also, [citation needed].

    Like

  18. Peter
    February 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    MMMMMM genetically engineered insect virus! Yummy!

    Like

  19. February 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    @peter – anything substantial to add, or are you just jumping on the “scare bandwagon?” I see quite a bit of unsubstantiated supposition in that “article” and no actual facts…..

    Moving away from using egg cultures removes the risk of “egg allergies” which prevent certain individuals from receiving the vaccines. So remove the Mercola “let’s try to scare people with big words” touch from the article above & I don’t see a single item of concern.

    Like

  20. Peter
    February 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Are those big words to you L?
    GM anything is not good!
    What is Mercola?

    Like

  21. February 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    @Peter – of course not, because I understand the connotations and actually understand the Science, as opposed to guys like Mercola & the “Health Ranger” Mike Adams, who don’t even have a clue as to how basic biology works.

    Interesting that you’re so against GM, since technically, the cross-breeding humans have been doing with both plants and animals over our existence is genetic modification…..

    Like

  22. Peter
    February 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you for letting me know about Dr. Mercola, I found his website and it looks good.

    Go ahead and eat your GM foods and we’ll see how your health is in a few years.

    Like

  23. February 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    @Peter – great, I hope you enjoy Mercola & Natural News….hope that we don’t see you around here anymore.

    Like

  24. Peter
    February 8, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    The Natural News guy looks like he’s a little “out there”, but Mercola looks good.

    Like

  25. Chris
    February 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    One word of advice, Peter, beware of doctor websites which has a “shopping” section.

    Like

  26. Lara Lohne
    February 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I was going to make this exact point. Not only is cross breeding plants and animals, but any time any animal or human creates offspring, the new offspring is genetically modified from his progenitors. And let’s not forget about random genetic mutations that happen on a regular basis (blue eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes, etc, all from genetic modification) so basically, anything that is genetically different from the original host organism is genetically modified. That being the case, according to Peter, all of life as we know it should be wiped out and avoided. Hmm, that doesn’t seem very productive to me.

    Like

  27. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 2:52 am

    You have no idea what you are talking about.
    There is a huge difference between Hybrids and Genetically Modified. They are not the same.
    Hybridization happens when closely related species cross-pollinate.
    Genetic modification can only happen in a lab because it combines DNA.
    As a matter of fact, hybrids often happen in nature, and to genetically modify something, they must force it against nature.
    Nature fights the process so much that they have to weaken and infect the cell by inserting a virus or bacteria such as ecoli to make it happen.

    Like

  28. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 2:54 am

    @Chris I would rather buy something “natural” vs a synthetic man made version of it.

    Like

  29. Chris
    February 9, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Like the sunbeds that Mercola sells? Yeah, that is all “natural” and safe. Still, it is still wise to stay away from “medical sites” that are big on selling: Old-Time Sales Tricks on the Net.

    The advice still stands: avoid “medical” websites that have a “shopping” section.

    Like

  30. Gray Falcon
    February 9, 2013 at 8:39 am

    @Peter- A timberwolf is natural. A Bichon is artificial. Which would you rather be stuck in a room with?

    Like

  31. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Chris….I guess you don’t do much shopping…..everybody is selling something….Everybody.

    G Falcon….I don’t have to agree with everything somebody promotes. I can decide what I believe is good info or a good product or not. No I would not buy one of those sun beds. BTW….a bichon is not synthetic nor is it genetically modified, what a ridiculous question.

    Like

  32. Lawrence
    February 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Ignore off-topic Peter

    Like

  33. Chris
    February 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    He is sounding like Joe. And really does not care about the issues around TB, probably because they think it only affects poor people in poor countries. They forget that not long ago it was a common disease in the USA.

    Some good reading: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

    Like

  34. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Joe must be a good man.
    So hypocritical…..I’m off topic? Takes more than one to have a coversation L. Get over yourself.

    Like

  35. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    At least you understand the difference between cross-polination and genetically modified now.

    Like

  36. Gray Falcon
    February 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Peter :
    At least you understand the difference between cross-polination and genetically modified now.

    “Genetically modified” is a vague term, and can easily mean hybridized, cross-pollinated, or selectively bred. Now, prove to me that the method you’re describing is, in fact, more dangerous than any of these. Vague allegations are not helpful. And don’t try to convince me that it’s because it’s “unnatural”, I’ve met pugs and bulldogs, those are hardly natural.

    Like

  37. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Ignore Gray Falcon..she is off topic.

    Like

  38. Lawrence
    February 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    @peter – let’s see your citations or evidence to support your position.

    Otherwise, if you are unable to contribute meaningful discussion here, just leave.

    Like

  39. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    @Lawrence….seems like you are the one having issues with the discussions. If it causes so much stress for you, then I suggest you leave.

    Like

  40. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    BTW….I thought you were ignoring me? But again, you spoke to me, and I’m sure you will blame me for that too.

    Like

  41. Peter
    February 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    And talk about a meaningful discussion, why don’t you ask Gray Falcon? She has a way of going way off topic. But I guess Gray Falcon is one of your pals, so she is OK to ask such ridiculous, meaningless questions.

    Like

  42. Chris
    February 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Peter, since you insist on hanging around, you can be a productive participant by explaining what you would do to prevent antibiotic resistant tuberculosis. You can start by actually reading the article at the top of the page.

    Perhaps you will have a viable solution to prevent the nine million TB infections and over a million deaths from it every year on this planet.

    Like

  43. June 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    And talk about a meaningful discussion, why don’t you ask Gray Falcon? She has a way of going way off topic

    Like

  44. February 13, 2014 at 6:56 am

    It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable
    people in this particular subject, but you seem like you
    know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    Like

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