Tuberculosis Elimination Strategy

Clinical Trials for MTBVAC Tuberculosis Vaccine in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MTBVAC, TB, DOTS Regimen, Nikshay Poshan Yojana

Mains level: NA

What is the news?

  • Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with Spanish biopharmaceutical company Biofabri, has initiated clinical trials for the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Vaccine (MTBVAC) in India, marking a significant milestone in TB vaccine development.
  • The only currently available TB vaccine, the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG), was developed 100 years ago and is less effective.


  • MTBVAC is a unique TB vaccine based on a genetically modified form of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, containing all antigens present in human-infecting strains, unlike the BCG vaccine.
  • It is developed in the laboratory of the University of Zaragoza with contributions from Dr. Brigitte Gicquel of the Pasteur Institute, Paris.
  • MTBVAC is designed to offer superior and potentially longer-lasting protection compared to the BCG vaccine, particularly for newborns and in preventing TB in adults and adolescents.

Objectives of Clinical Trials in India

  • Safety and Immunogenicity: The ongoing trials in India aim to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of MTBVAC, with plans for a pivotal Phase 3 trial in 2025.
  • Population Significance: Studying the vaccine’s efficacy in India, with its high TB burden, is crucial for advancing TB vaccine research and addressing the global TB epidemic.

What is Tuberculosis?

  • Tuberculosis is an infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  • Robert Koch discovered Mycobacterium tuberculosis which causes TB, and his discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
  • It can practically affect any organ of the body.
  • The most common ones are lungs, pleura (lining around the lungs), lymph nodes, intestines, spine, and brain.


It is an airborne infection that spreads through close contact with the infected, especially in densely populated spaces with poor ventilation.


Common symptoms of active lung TB are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.

Treatment Facilities in India:

  • DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course) regimen: It is the recommended treatment approach for TB by the WHO. Patients receive a combination of four antibiotics: isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol. These drugs are usually administered daily for the first two months of treatment, followed by a continuation phase with isoniazid and rifampicin for an additional four to seven months.
  • Nikshay Poshan Yojana (2018): It was launched to support every Tuberculosis (TB) Patient by providing a Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of Rs 500 per month for nutritional needs.

Issues in TB Treatment: Drug Resistance

Drug resistance emerges when anti-TB medicines are used inappropriately, through incorrect prescription by health care providers, poor quality drugs, and patients stopping treatment prematurely.

  1. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB): Itis a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs such as
  2. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB): Itis a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.



2014: Can overuse and free availability of antibiotics without Doctor’s prescription, be contributors to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases in India? What are the available mechanisms for monitoring and control? Critically discuss the various issues involved.


Practice MCQ:

With reference to the Tuberculosis (TB), consider the following statements:

  1. TB is an infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  2. It only targets Lungs.
  3. Nikshay Poshan Yojana aims for TB support is essentially a Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).

How many of the given statements is/are correct?

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. None

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