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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cost-effectiveness of novel vaccines for tuberculosis control: a decision analysis study

Chia-Lin Tseng12, Olivia Oxlade13, Dick Menzies134, Anne Aspler5 and Kevin Schwartzman14*

Author Affiliations

1 Respiratory Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit, Montreal Chest Institute, Montreal, Canada

2 Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

3 Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

4 Respiratory Division, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

5 Internal Medicine Residency Training Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-55

Published: 26 January 2011



The development of a successful new tuberculosis (TB) vaccine would circumvent many limitations of current diagnostic and treatment practices. However, vaccine development is complex and costly. We aimed to assess the potential cost effectiveness of novel vaccines for TB control in a sub-Saharan African country - Zambia - relative to the existing strategy of directly observed treatment, short course (DOTS) and current level of bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination coverage.


We conducted a decision analysis model-based simulation from the societal perspective, with a 3% discount rate and all costs expressed in 2007 US dollars. Health outcomes and costs were projected over a 30-year period, for persons born in Zambia (population 11,478,000 in 2005) in year 1. Initial development costs for single vaccination and prime-boost strategies were prorated to the Zambian share (0.398%) of global BCG vaccine coverage for newborns. Main outcome measures were TB-related morbidity, mortality, and costs over a range of potential scenarios for vaccine efficacy.


Relative to the status quo strategy, a BCG replacement vaccine administered at birth, with 70% efficacy in preventing rapid progression to TB disease after initial infection, is estimated to avert 932 TB cases and 422 TB-related deaths (prevention of 199 cases/100,000 vaccinated, and 90 deaths/100,000 vaccinated). This would result in estimated net savings of $3.6 million over 30 years for 468,073 Zambians born in year 1 of the simulation. The addition of a booster at age 10 results in estimated savings of $5.6 million compared to the status quo, averting 1,863 TB cases and 1,011 TB-related deaths (prevention of 398 cases/100,000 vaccinated, and of 216 deaths/100,000 vaccinated). With vaccination at birth alone, net savings would be realized within 1 year, whereas the prime-boost strategy would require an additional 5 years to realize savings, reflecting a greater initial development cost.


Investment in an improved TB vaccine is predicted to result in considerable cost savings, as well as a reduction in TB morbidity and TB-related mortality, when added to existing control strategies. For a vaccine with waning efficacy, a prime-boost strategy is more cost-effective in the long term.