VALIDATE Launches BCG100 Programme


The VALIDATE Network marks 100 years of the BCG Vaccine

The VALIDATE Network, a community of over 400 researchers based in more than 200 research institutions in 63 countries, will today launch the “BCG100 Programme” marking the centenary of the Bacille Calmette-Guérin ('BCG') vaccine. BCG is the first, and still a century later, only vaccine approved for humans that protects against tuberculosis.

On 18 July 1921, at the Hôpital de la Charité in Paris, a newborn infant, whose mother had died of tuberculosis that same morning, received a dose of an experimental vaccine called Bacille Calmette- Guérin. This young child would be the first human to receive the BCG vaccine, which, over the coming century, would be administered to billions of people across the planet, saving tens of millions of lives.

Starting on World TB Day, 24 March 2021, VALIDATE's BCG100 programme will consist of public events, talks with school students from around the world, a social media campaign, a series of computer games and other online activities with the aim of educating the public about the science and history behind vaccinations. VALIDATE also hopes to draw attention to the work researchers are doing today to improve or replace the lifesaving but flawed BCG vaccine.

BCG100 officially launches with the ‘BCG Then and Now’ online lecture by Prof McShane (University of Oxford) and Prof Paul Fine (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine). Taking place at 6pm GMT, 24 March, the talk will cover the initial development of the vaccine, moving through to the modern-day challenges in the fight against TB and the future challenges researchers face in replacing the enduring BCG vaccine.

VALIDATE Network Director Prof Helen McShane commented: “In a year when we have had a lot of media coverage about new vaccines, it is appropriate to take time to remember a very old vaccine. It is 100 years since BCG, the only licensed vaccine against TB, was first developed. Although BCG has saved millions of lives in the last 100 years, it is far from perfect and that there is significant work underway to develop a better vaccine against TB.  At VALIDATE, TB is one of our four focus pathogens. An important aim of our BCG100 campaign is to explain that although COVID-19 is responsible for a devastating global number of deaths in the last year, TB kills 1.4 million people every single year. Only a very small fraction of the resources available for COVID-19, and for pathogens such as HIV, are available for the development of improvements to the now century old BCG.

BCG100 will be a fun and engaging way for the public to learn about vaccines, TB and what VALIDATE Researchers are doing to protect millions around the world from pathogens like TB.”

Network Manager Samantha Vermaak added: “We have a very busy programme of activities that we hope will get the public involved in science research for vaccines against neglected diseases such as TB. Science communications is an essential part of our members’ work, and BCG100 will give the public a chance to engage with our community of world leading vaccine researchers.”



The BCG100 programme is supported by the University of Oxford Enriching Engagement scheme, funded by the Wellcome Trust.

About VALIDATE: VALIDATE is an international network of researchers aiming to accelerate vaccine research and development for complex intracellular pathogens that cause significant disease burden in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). The network’s initial focus is on Mycobacterium tuberculosis (which causes TB), Leishmania species (leishmaniasis), Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis) and Mycobacterium leprae (leprosy). The network currently has over 420 members from 213 institutes across 63 countries, and has a varied programme of activities, including BCG100 – find out more at

More about BCG100: You can find out more about BCG100 on the VALIDATE website. Planned BCG100 activities include:


  • BCG Then and Now - A Public Lecture from the VALIDATE Network - 24 March 2021: Prof Paul Fine & Prof Helen McShane will take us on a journey from the initial development of the vaccine to the modern-day challenges in the fight against TB and the future challenges researchers face in replacing the enduring BCG vaccine.

  • BCG100 for Schools - 11 May 2021 - A follow up/spin-off from our very successful VALIDATE for Schools event, Professor Michele Miller and Dr Wynand Johan Goosen from Stellenbosch University will be talking to students from around the world about their careers, their TB vaccine research, and their work with African wildlife.

VALIDATE is planning other events as part of the BCG100 Programme and hopes to have at least one live event once we are through the COVID-19 pandemic.


Other Activities

  • BCG Adventures Computer Game - ‘BCG Adventures’ will be a series of open-access, simple, retro computer games for use by researchers and teachers aiming to engage Key Stage 3 schoolchildren 11 to 14 in vaccine development and careers in STEM. VALIDATE is currently seeking game designers who will work with VALIDATE members to produce the games.

  • 100 Facts About TB and BCG: Starting on World TB Day on 24 March 2021, and ending with the 100th anniversary of BCG on 18 July 2021, VALIDATE will be tweeting a series of social media infographics containing 100 facts about TB and BCG.

About TB: Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), and is found worldwide.

  • Around one-third of the world’s population is latently infected with M.tb, which means they have been infected but do not yet have active TB disease. Latently infected people have a 10% chance of developing active TB during their lifetime, and becoming ill.

  • In 2019, there were 10 million new cases of active TB worldwide and 1.4 million people died (WHO 2019).

  • There were 5,102 cases of TB in England in 2017.

  • After COVID-19, this makes TB the greatest global infectious disease cause of death, killing more people every year than HIV or malaria.

  • Aside from causing death, TB impairs general health, resulting in reduced economic productivity and increased social and medical burdens on families.

    • The World Health Organisation estimates 100 million disability adjusted life years are lost due to TB in India alone.

    • The average total cost to a patient with TB in a low/middle-income country is US$538-1268, which is equivalent to a year’s wages for many sufferers.


About BCG

  • Bacille Calmette- Guérin was developed by immunologists Albert  Calmette and Camille Guérin at the L'Institut Pasteur de Lille and was first used for humans on 18 July 1921.

  • BCG uses a strain of attenuated (weakened) Mycobacterium bovis that causes TB in cows and other animals. The attenuated M.bovis is weakened to the point where it does not cause harm to humans.

  • By developing immunity to the weakened M.bovis strain, the body’s immune system develops protection to the closely related Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

  • When given at birth, BCG is good at protecting against severe disease in childhood. However the protection it confers against lung disease, particularly in adults, is highly variable.

  • We urgently need a more effective vaccine against TB.

  • VALIDATE researchers are working on improving and replacing the BCG vaccine.


Notes to editors

Further requests for information, additional comment, or interview requests can be sent to VALIDATE Communications and Events Coordinator Blakeley Nixon – / 07403802502