New Lyme Disease Vaccine is (Almost) Here

Lyme disease vaccine candidate

Bloomberg released an article “Lyme Disease Has Exploded, and a New Vaccine Is (Almost) Here” on 8.24.2023, written by Kristen V Brown and Nacha Cattan. The article talks about Lyme disease and a potential new vaccine. In recent times, Lyme disease has become the most common vector-borne illness in the US. Due to this increasing prevalence of this disease, there is more urgency to develop a vaccine. Currently, there is only a vaccine available for dogs against Lyme disease.

Often, Lyme disease goes undiagnosed and untreated. Lyme disease can be challenging to diagnose and treat, and its symptoms can persist for a lifetime. The reported cases of Lyme disease are likely undercounts, with some estimates suggesting a much higher number of diagnoses. In 1998, the first Lyme vaccine for humans, called Lymerix, was approved, showing about 75% efficacy in preventing the disease transmitted by ticks. However, it faced criticism and legal issues, with concerns about side effects and regulatory authorities showed a lack of support for the vaccine. 

The article states that “Pat Smith, president of the volunteer-run Lyme Disease Association in Jackson, New Jersey, … who’s had two daughters contract the illness, is a de facto spokesperson for people dealing with what’s known as post-treatment Lyme,” and said that the FDA found some people who “felt they were being deceived and that the process was not transparent.” She also added “We are interested in the possibility of a vaccine,”…The issue is the safety and efficacy.”

The article states that “For much of the disease’s history, patients who didn’t recover after the usual course of antibiotics have faced intense skepticism from mainstream medical practitioners. The symptoms of Lyme, after all, look a lot like many other illnesses. Even with a diagnosis, no one-size-fits-all treatment exists.  What’s emerged to deal with this population is a cottage industry of medical practitioners who specialize in diagnosing and treating these cases—sometimes plying intensive, expensive and still-unproven therapies to treat people who may or may not even have Lyme.”

Currently, Pfizer Inc. and French drugmaker Valneva SE are now developing a new Lyme vaccine, named VLA15, with Phase III trials underway and expected availability in 2026. The vaccine’s approach is similar to Lymerix. Some people are still unsure about vaccines and if they would get it, but regardless, it is important that a Lyme disease vaccine is developed to combat the rapidly rising cases.

LDA NOTE: LDA President Pat Smith gave an extensive interview with author Brown and provided documents and names of credentialed individuals who would be able to provide information and perspectives on this early vaccine, including a private meeting LDA obtained with the FDA–LDA bringing  some of those individuals– none of  that information appears to be referenced in this article.  The vaccine was taken off the market in 2002 by the manufacturer citing poor sales. 

For more information:

Read the full article on the Bloomberg website here.

Read more about History of LymeRix by Pat Smith in Lyme Times

Read more about Pfizer/Valneva & other vaccines on the LDA website here.