BCG vaccine safe for old people, can prevent respiratory infections: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on September 04, 2020 Published on September 04, 2020

Ability to prevent Covid-19 yet to be ascertained

The BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine, a protective vaccine against tuberculosis given to children, is also safe for the elderly and can save them from the attack of various pathogens, according to a study published in the journal Cell.

The researchers in their study cautioned that it is still unclear whether the BCG vaccine can stimulate immune responses in elderly people against the coronavirus.

The scientists revealed that old people benefit from the vaccine by an effect called "trained immunity." For the study, the researchers examined 198 elderly people who were given either a placebo or the BCG vaccine upon discharge from the hospital.

The scientists further said their research on the BCG vaccine for old people started two years ago before the pandemic.

Study co-author Mihai Netea from the Radboud University Medical Center said in the study: "Two years ago we started the ACTIVATE study, with the aim of showing whether BCG vaccination could protect against infections in vulnerable elderly people."

"Patients over 65 years of age who were admitted to hospital were randomised to receive BCG or placebo vaccination at their discharge. We followed them for a year to see if BCG could protect them against a broad range of infections," Netea added.

"In addition to the clear effect of BCG vaccination on infections in general, the most important observation was that BCG could mainly protect against respiratory infections," said Evangelos J. Giamarellos Bourboulis, another co-author of the study.

"BCG-vaccinated elderly people had 75 per cent fewer respiratory infections than the elderly who received placebo," he added.

The BCG shots will be given to prevent various respiratory infections, said the researchers.

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Published on September 04, 2020
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