My view on the development of a Lyme disease vaccine

By John Caudwell, Chairman of Caudwell LymeCo Charity

Lyme disease is one of the most serious public health threats that we face today. It is far more prevalent than people realise and is causing many different debilitating conditions, ranging from memory loss to life-threatening heart problems. For decades now, those suffering with this devastating disease have been left out in the cold by the NHS and in many cases feel completely abandoned.

It is positive news that a vaccine to protect people from contracting Lyme is in development. Valneva, the French drug company, has completed the first human trial of a vaccine that could be up to 96 per cent effective. The indications are that it will take five years before the vaccine is finalised, but there is hope that it will then be available on the NHS to people of all ages.

If the vaccine is safe, effective, and fully accessible, then this is an extremely important step in the fight against Lyme. As Caudwell LymeCo chief executive, Veronica Hughes, told the Sunday Telegraph, “It would be fantastic news if it turns out to be a safe vaccine that can prevent more people catching Lyme disease.”

The biggest problem with any potential Lyme disease vaccine, aside from safety, is whether it will be available to everybody in the country. We know that even if people do not live in areas which are deemed high-risk, they will inevitably at some stage visit such an area where they are in severe danger of catching a disease which is damaging hundreds of thousands of lives.

Everybody should therefore be able to get the vaccine for a low cost. This is vital if it is to have any success in containing the spread of Lyme disease. For this reason, I urge the NHS to apply some commercial logic. A deal whereby the vaccine is bought on a mass-scale will help drive down the price per unit, and these savings should be passed on to the millions of people in need of this vaccine.

We have of course heard this before. The first and only licensed vaccine against Lyme disease was developed by SmithKline Beecham in 1988. It worked in a very similar manner to the vaccine developed by Valneva, by stimulating antibodies to attack Lyme bacteria in the tick’s gut before the bacteria is able to enter the body. Yet by 2002, it was withdrawn from the market following several complications. This time round, we need assurances that the vaccine is here for the long-term.

But preventing the further spread of Lyme disease does not address the huge amounts of suffering currently experienced by hundreds of thousands of people with Lyme. Their lives could certainly be made better if the medical profession took the disease a lot more seriously.

The Government must sponsor research that is desperately needed to analyse symptoms, implement treatments, monitor results and gradually increase and refine our knowledge of Lyme. Only through this will we start to make real inroads into this disease. I remain confident that we can find a cure for chronic Lyme if the correct resources are devoted to this effort, and the Department of Health and the NHS should not be let off the hook.

We also need an immediate and comprehensive training programme for doctors, an awareness scheme to alert people to the symptoms of Lyme disease and specialist treatment facilities. This is vital to helping those in need right now.

If research programmes are properly carried out, I have no doubt that an enormous number of lives in the UK alone could be quite dramatically improved. The vaccine alone will not win the fight against Lyme disease. We need drastic action now and I am continuing my campaign to ensure that this happens urgently.



9 thoughts on “My view on the development of a Lyme disease vaccine

  1. The first Lyme disease vaccine known as LYMErix was withdrawn from the market by the manufacturer not for poor sales as reported in the media but for the severe and debilitating adverse reactions it produced. Valneva’s vaccine is based on the same OspA concept that was used in LYMErix.

    Excerpt from the class action lawsuit:

    “The people who have contacted us were, prior to vaccination with LYMErix, healthy, active and energetic. Indeed, the very reason they sought the LYMErix vaccine was their desire to preserve their healthy, active lifestyle. However, what they experienced was a dramatic degradation of their health and quality of life. As will be described below, these previously healthy individuals are now afflicted with painful, at times debilitating arthritic symptoms, including joint pain and swelling, as well as extremely severe Lyme-disease-like symptoms which have persisted to this day.”

    Below is the link to the Final Judgement and Approval of the class action against SmithKline Beecham as a settlement was awarded to these individuals.


    Carl Tuttle
    Lyme Endemic Hudson, NH USA

  2. “The part of Osp A that most strongly stimulates antibody production associated with chronic Lyme arthritis has turned out to be cross-reactive with a molecule found naturally on an assortment of normal human cells. He (Steere) and his co-researchers have nominated this molecule – hLFA-1 or human leukocyte function-associated antigen-1 – as a “candidate autoantigen.”
    The subsequent adverse events from the Osp A vaccine LYMErix were sufficiently severe to warrant immediate withdrawal of the vaccine from the market place and a second vaccine, also Osp A based (Conaught) was abandoned. I’d like to be well assured that we are not going down the same path again

    1. This is exactly the concern that we at Caudwell LymeCo share. At first glance, the new vaccine in development appears to work in a very similar way to the older Lymerix vaccine, so we shall be watching for further news on this. We hope for the sake of everyone who needs protection from Lyme disease that the evidence will find it doesn’t cause the same problems, obviously, but we think the everyone’s approach should be appropriately cautious.

  3. Lyme Disease is threatening worldwide. Some group have filed a class action lawsuit against CDC over an alleged suppression of direct Lyme disease test. According to a doctor Lyme disease is often referred to as the ‘great imitator’ because it mimics other conditions, often causing patients to suffer a complicated maze of doctors in search of appropriate treatment.

    But there are two people who were able to self-cured successfully.
    a. Rob Matthies – an award winning inventor in Vancouver, used non-standard healing methods and got cured from chronic Lyme disease in only 53 days
    b. Will Wiegman PhD – has degree in sub-cellular biochemistry from Indiana University in 1972 and easily cured his Lyme Disease in 60 days twice using a non-standard antibiotic protocol . First was in 2010 and in the Spring of 2012.
    Spread the Good news! and

  4. As Lyme can be transmitted through body fluids, congenital as well as sexually, and the current blood tests are less than reliable, it will be almost impossible to identify whether those being vaccinated have already been exposed to Lyme. As there are also published papers on breakthrough of the previous vaccine, and any antibiotic exposure could leave Lyme in a dormant state worsening symptoms for the immuno compromised. Analysis of spinal fluid, post mortem in animals in high risk areas would gives a picture of how prevalent borrelia and Bartonella are. This information will have some correlation with levels of human population exposure. I personally would not risk the vaccine based on the research I have read on all aspects of Lyme and Co infections.

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