Without better vaccines it is unlikely that tuberculosis (TB) will ever be eliminated. An investment of about €560 million is considered necessary to develop a new, effective vaccine in the European Union (EU). Less is known, however, about the costs of TB disease in the EU. We performed a systematic review of literature and institutional websites addressing the 27 EU members to summarize cost data. We searched Medline, EMBASE and Cochrane bibliographies of relevant articles.
Combining direct and indirect costs, we arrived at average per-case TB costs in the old EU-15 states plus Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia of €10,282 for drug-susceptible TB, €57,213 for multidrug resistant (MDR)-TB and €170,744 for extensively drug resistant (XDR)-TB. In the remaining new EU states costs amounted to €3,427 for susceptible TB and €24,166 for MDR-TB/XDR-TB. For the 70,340 susceptible TB cases, 1,488 MDR-TB and 136 XDR-TB cases notified in 2011 total costs of €536,890,315 accumulated in 2012. For the same year, the 103,104 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) caused by these cases, when stated in monetary terms, amounted to a total of €5,361,408,000.
Thus, the resulting economic burden of TB in the EU clearly outweighs the cost of investing in more efficient vaccines against TB.