Covid-19 is being replaced by Tuberculosis (TB) as the world’s most deadly infectious disease, as medical experts warn of the threat it poses to the UK.
The biggest ever TB clinical trial is being set up to tackle the hidden pandemic in Africa, where the frontline in the battle against the bug is being fought.
British Professor Robert Wilkinson is leading a global call to find an effective, one-shot vaccine, with collaborations between scientists in the US, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Madagascar and the Ivory Coast.
Medication to fight TB take at least six months to be effective, and if they are stopped prior to that, the disease can come back in a much more deadly form which is drug resistant
The BCG vaccine was given to all children in the UK to immunise against TB, up until 2005. It is now only given to children who may travel to high-risk countries. Immunity from the illness does not last past the teenage years.
The US is set to eradicate TB due to heavy investment and contact tracing during outbreaks. At present it employs a similar procedure to the UK’s BCG programme prior to 2005.
The Mirror spoke to TB survivors in the South African township of Khayelitsha, which has one of the highest rates of drug-resistant TB in the world.
The clinic is run by Prof Wilkinson, of London’s Francis Crick Institute. He said: “It’s inevitable TB will be the most deadly infectious disease in the world again. The proportion of resistant TB is gradually increasing everywhere and that is a problem in Europe too.