New TB vaccine could produce large health, economic benefits in LMICs

February 7, 2023 – Introducing an effective new tuberculosis (TB) vaccine in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) could lead to billions of dollars in potential health and economic benefits, according to a modeling study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study was published January 24 in PLOS Medicine. Co-authors included Allison Portnoy, postdoctoral researcher fellow in the Center for Health Decision Science, and Nicolas Menzies, associate professor of global health.

Given the huge economic burden of TB in LMICs, the researchers sought to determine both the cost and the cost-effectiveness of novel TB vaccines across a range of countries, looking at potential benefits through the years 2028 to 2050 to both the health system and society as a whole. Currently, although promising TB vaccine candidates exist, there are limited market incentives to invest in TB prevention, which has delayed the development of new vaccines, the authors noted.

From a health system perspective, adolescent/adult vaccination was found to be cost-effective in 64 out of 105 LMICs, according to the study’s projections. From a societal perspective, it was found to be cost-effective in 73 out of 105 LMICs. Further, researchers estimated that such a vaccine could produce between $283 billion and $474 billion in economic benefits by 2050, with greater benefits in LMICs with higher incidence of TB.

The health and economic benefits from an effective TB vaccine would be “of similar scale to the most influential health interventions in LMIC settings in recent years,” the authors wrote. They said they hope their findings will help inform global-level decision-making regarding the development and use of new TB vaccines. Said Portnoy in a February 3 Gavi article, “While challenges remain, successful development and introduction of a new TB vaccine has potential to accelerate elimination of a disease that represents one of the greatest health threats for poor households.”

Read the study: The cost and cost-effectiveness of novel tuberculosis vaccines in low- and middle-income countries: A modeling study

Read the Gavi article: New TB vaccine could produce substantial health and economic benefits in coming decades