Lyme Disease Vaccine Gets Closer To Reality

Jun 18, 2018

It’s hard to believe, but we actually had a vaccine for Lyme disease in the 1990’s.

It was pulled from the market in 2002 after a class action lawsuit alleged that it infected people with Lyme rather than protecting them from it.

The government didn't find any evidence of that, but it’s taken 15 years for a drug developer to get close to getting a new one to market. 

Now, a French company called Valneva has taken its vaccine through Phase 1 of a three-phase testing regime.

“That’s what keeps me up at night -- that we know we can make a vaccine,” expert Stanley Plotkin told Living Lab Radio. "But it doesn't exist."

Plotkin is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Pennsylvania, Adjunct Professor of the Johns Hopkins University and he serves as a consultant to vaccine manufacturers. (He notes that he does not accept consulting fees to avoid any conflict of interest.)

He knows a thing or two about what it takes to make a new vaccine. Plotkin developed the rubella vaccine and is the lead author of Plotkin’s Vaccines – the medical handbook that is now in its seventh edition. In recent years, he’s been a vocal advocate for a vaccine for Lyme disease.

“As far as how optimistic we should be, I would say cautiously optimistic,” Plotkin said when asked about the prospects of a new vaccine.

He added that it could take another three to five years before we see a Lyme vaccine in the pharmacy. With an estimated 300,000 new Lyme cases each year in the United States, Plotkin said he would like it to be sooner.