Baroness Suttie hosts webinar on TB vaccines, research and development and COVID-19
GTBC and IAVI Joint Webinar
17th November 2020
Throughout 2020, the GTBC Secretariat has been working to establish a project to ensure that parliamentarians are comprehensively briefed on TB Research and Development (R&D). The publication of an introductory briefing for MPs, developed in partnership with TAG, marked the launch of the project in September.
On the 17th November 2020, Baroness Alison Suttie hosted a webinar on TB vaccines, R&D and COVID-19. The webinar was organised in collaboration with the International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). In a year which has seen unprecedented attention on infectious diseases and global health mechanisms, the webinar was intended to inform parliamentarians about the current innovations in TB R&D and where the gaps are, and also to provide strategic insight on how they can leverage their governments to meet the funding targets for TB R&D.
Maria Lempicki, Senior Director of Strategic Operations at IAVI , began the panel of expert speakers by outlining the various vaccine candidates that IAVI are involved in the development of. Ms Lempecki drew attention to how critical the development of TB vaccines is. She emphasised that in order for the WHO End TB Strategy to be delivered by 2025, a vaccine that is effective in adults must be developed and in use.
Dr Grania Bridgen, Director of the TB Department at the Union Against TB and Lung Diseases, then spoke about the effects of COVID on TB. Dr Bridgen gave an overview of the scale of interruption that COVID has caused in TB R&D from diversion of staff, redirection of resources and the impact of lockdowns on staff, trial participants and supply chains to list a few. Dr Bridgen also pointed to the numerous ways in which TB research has contributed to the COVID response, highlighting in particular the use of TB diagnostics tools such as GeneXpert machines being used to diagnose COVID.
Aaron Oxley, Executive Director at Results UK, then rounded off the panel of experts, and gave an overview of the TB funding landscape. In particular Mr Oxley stressed the relatively small contributions that governments can make to ensure the TB R&D pipeline is fully funded. If each country gave a modest 0.1% of their gross expenditure on R&D to TB, then the $2 billion annual target would be easily achieved.
The webinar was attended by parliamentarians from Germany, the United Kingdom, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. A representative of a parliamentarian from Italy was also present. The allotted time finished before the audience had been able to agree to action points, but the Secretariat are working with each of the attendees to tailor briefings and support parliamentarians in engaging with their governments on this topic.