BCG Vaccine Protecting People Against Coronavirus?

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According to an article published in then Sun, an anti-tuberculous vaccine that was given to thousands of British schoolchildren could protect against coronavirus, experts claim.

What is it?

  • The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) jab was developed a century ago to increase immunity to TB — a bacterial lung infection.
  • The BCG vaccine that was given to thousands of British schoolchildren could protect against coronavirus, experts claim
  • Pupils aged between ten and 14 were given the mandatory shot every year between 1953 and 2005 when doctors ditched mass vaccination.
  • Instead, those who were considered most at risk – including babies or children who live with infected relatives – were targeted.
  • However, researchers believe the vaccine could protect millions against killer Covid-19 and are set to roll out tests across four countries.
  • As part of a six month trial, some 4,000 health workers in hospitals across Australia will be given the BCG vaccine, Bloomberg reported.

‘Boosts frontline immunity’

Researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne said: “Although originally developed against tuberculosis, and still given to over 130 million babies annually for that purpose, BCG also boosts humans’ ‘frontline’ immunity, training it to respond to germs with greater intensity.”

The participants will be enrolled in the trial within weeks following fast-track approval from health authorities.

If successful, it could mean the vaccine – which costs as little as £30 a dose – could provide a cheap and readily available method of warding off coronavirus.

Lead researcher, Nigel Curtis, a professor of paediatric infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne and head of the infectious diseases unit at the city’s Royal Children’s Hospital, said: “The clock is definitely ticking.”

In Africa, studies on infants revealed that the BCG vaccine protects against TB and other paediatric infections — enhancing the body’s innate immune system and specifically the response of white blood cells.

Prof Curtis said: “It can boost the immune system so that it defends better against a whole range of different infections, a whole range of different viruses and bacteria in a lot more generalised way.”

Similar research is underway in the Netherlands, and Prof Curtis said he’s in contact with potential trial sites in Boston, Massachusetts, and other parts of Australia.

How will it be done?

  • Some participating workers will be vaccinated against seasonal influenza and TB, while others receive the flu shot alone in order to set a baseline for comparison.
  • Researchers will take blood samples at the start and end of the trial to determine who contracted coronavirus, and participants will log any symptoms.
  • Midway through the trial, analysts will review the results for any indication that the TB vaccine is effective.

To Be Available To Public in Months?

It’s also reported that a British trial is planned at Exeter University in Devon.

He added: “We need to think of every possible way that we can protect health care workers.

“And there’s going to be a particular need to reduce the amount of time that our health care workers are absent.”

It’s hoped that if the trials show a strong enough effect, the jab could be available to the public within months.

Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, believes the vaccine could work as it seems to trigger something known as “trained immunity” – where the whole immune system is on alert.

He told MailOnline:

The level of alertness remains high for weeks or months after having the vaccine”.

“It means you may be less likely to catch infections during that period because the immune system is more likely to respond very quickly if it spots a foreign invader.”

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Source: The Sun

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