Shortfall in TB Research and Development Funding Persists as COVID-19 Erodes Hard-Won Gains

January 27, 2022

NEW YORK (January 27, 2022)—The 2021 G-Finder Report, released today, shows that low funding levels continue to encumber the pursuit of life-saving science to fight the world’s deadliest neglected diseases. Global investments in tuberculosis (TB) research and development (R&D) totaled $684 million in 2020, far shy of the $2.16 billion that the Stop TB Partnership estimates is needed annually to develop and deliver new tools, such as more effective drug regimens, vaccines, and diagnostics, that are necessary to end the TB pandemic. TB afflicts more than 10 million each year and, until eclipsed by COVID-19, was the world’s deadliest infectious disease. By comparison, within two short years, more than $100 billion has been invested in the development of COVID-19 vaccines alone, with diagnostics and therapeutics also being funded at unprecedented levels.  However, while the technological progress in combating the COVID-19 pandemic has been truly remarkable, we have learned from the COVID-19 experience that even this degree of investment does not guarantee the development and equitable distribution of the necessary tools to eradicate COVID-19. 

The need to invest in TB R&D is even more stark amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already reversed hard-won progress against TB achieved over recent decades. In 2020, only 5.8 million of the 10 million cases were identified and reported, an 18% decrease compared to 2019. 2020 also saw the first year-over-year increase in TB deaths since 2005, as well as a 15% reduction in the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis, despite the introduction and increasing availability and adoption of new therapies for highly drug-resistant forms of the disease.

This year’s report makes it clear: a TB-free world remains a real possibility, but not if present funding trends continue.

Mel Spigelman MD
President & CEO
TB Alliance

The full report can be read here