These are extraordinary times. The world is facing a pandemic unlike any it has seen in modern times, and COVID-19 has touched every aspect of our lives.
A massive global effort is underway to develop diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines to stop the spread of SARS-CoV2, prevent severe disease and mortality, and bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts benefited and built on R&D for TB and other infectious diseases - from vaccine platforms to research infrastructure and trial site capacity - demonstrating the broad benefits resulting from investments in and scientific contributions to global infectious disease R&D. At the same time, the impacts of COVID-19 on TB R&D were swift and cut across the full research spectrum, from early stage discovery to clinical trials, placing the exciting progress and momentum of recent years at risk.
New vaccines are urgently needed to end the TB pandemic, which continues to kill 1.5 million people each year. The theme for the Virtual Global Forum on TB Vaccines - Advancing TB vaccines in the time of COVID-19 - underscores the importance of continuing to support and build on recent progress, scientific breakthroughs, and momentum in TB vaccine R&D. It will be essential that ongoing efforts to accelerate vaccine R&D for TB and other epidemic and pandemic prone diseases learn from COVID -19 and take full advantage of the increased interest in vaccines and the resources allocated and technologies developed for COVID-19; and that synergies and opportunities for collaborations continue to be sought to help advance the development of vaccines for TB, COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.