Expert says BCG might not be enough to stop TB in Britain


In a letter to The Times, Dr. Helen McShane, a reader in vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said that the BCG, a tuberculosis vaccine, may not be enough to stop the disease in Britain.  


McShane points out that the BCG vaccine is not particularly effective at preventing adult pulmonary TB, which is the most common and contagious form of the disease. She commends the National Health Service's new focus on curbing the disease, particularly a mass plan to vaccinate infants with the 90-year-old BCG vaccine, but said that a better plan is needed to combat the disease as a whole, The Times reports.


McShane said that a more effective vaccine is needed and that current research efforts must be supported. There are currently 11 TB vaccines undergoing clinical trials, the Department for International Development is investing in new vaccines and McShane's group at the University of Oxford has developed a TB vaccine that is undergoing an efficacy trial. McShane said that efforts to support these vaccines in addition to working to prevent the spread now may finally make TB a disease of the past.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BCG, or the bacille Calmette-Guerin, should not be given to those who are immunosupressed, like those infected with HIV. The vaccine should also not be given to women who are pregnant. BCG has not generally been recommended in the United States due to variable effectiveness against adult pulmonary TB and the vaccine's possible interference with the reactivity of the tuberculin skin test.