Can BCG vaccine help in preventing Covid-19 infection?

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on October 11, 2020 Published on October 11, 2020

Scientists in the UK begin BCG vaccine trials

Researchers in the United Kingdom have begun testing the impact of the BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccine in preventing Covid-19 infections among healthcare workers.

The BCG vaccine developed in 1921 is primarily meant to prevent tuberculosis infections in patients. As part of an international trial to study the effects of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 infections, scientists will test the vaccine on healthcare workings.

New vaccine Trials

The UK trial is being conducted by the UK arm of the BRACE trial, Exeter Medical School in collaboration with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, Australia.

“BCG has a number of what is called off-target effects and there is evidence in the scientific literature of its potential effects against a number of viral infections including against corona type of viruses such as influenza or respiratory sensitive virus (RSV),” said Professor John Campbell, Professor of General Practice and Primary Care who is the principal investigator in the UK for the BRACE trial.

In the UK, the trial, researchers aim to recruit a minimum of 1,000 people in the trial at the University of Exeter, BBC reported.

Volunteers will receive a shot of BCG or a placebo. They will be monitored for a year with blood samples being collected at in three and twelve months.

The preliminary results of the trial could be expected in six to nine months, the Guardian reported.

“The results of this trial will help us find out whether, in current and future novel viral outbreaks, BCG vaccination could be used as an early intervention to protect healthcare workers and other high-risk groups,” reads the website.

Multiple studies have been conducted in the past to understand the effectiveness of the BCG vaccine in protection against Covid-19. A study published in the Journal Cell earlier this year had suggested that the vaccine can be proven effective in containing Covid-19 by evoking immune responses.

Other studies

Another study published in the Journal Cell last month included trial results showing that elderly people had substantially fewer infections after being given the vaccine.

The BRACE trial led by Professor Nigel Curtis of MCRI aims to recruit 10,000 healthcare workers “who work in a healthcare setting or have face-to-face contact with patients” in the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Brazil. MCRI has received funding from several donors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Published on October 11, 2020
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