Just last week a study had claimed that the principle behind the working of the BCG vaccine can help boost the coronavirus vaccine development. Another study has proven that the BCG vaccine boosts the immune system of an individual and helps to fight the coronavirus.
This recent study has been published in the medRxiv (an open-access server for healthcare sciences). For the purpose of the study, some staff members of the UAE International Hospital were administered the booster BCG vaccine shot at the onset of March. By the end of June, the staff tested corona positive using the RT-PCR test.
Furthermore, the volunteers were divided into two categories- the ones who received the booster shot and the ones who didn’t. As per the research data, 71 volunteers out of 280 had received the BCG vaccine booster shot and did not test positive for coronavirus. Out of the rest 209 volunteers that did not get the booster shot, 18 tested positive for coronavirus using the RT-PCR. The vaccinated group of volunteers had a zero percent positivity rate and the unvaccinated group had an 8.6 percent positivity rate.
The authors of the paper said, “Our findings demonstrated the potential effectiveness of the booster BCG vaccine, specifically the booster in preventing COVID-19 infections in an elevated-risk healthcare population.” The BCG vaccine shot is given to children in India when they’re born to protect them against tuberculosis. It has been a part of the National Immunization Program for about 50 years.
Dr. AB Dey, head of the geriatrics department, AIIMS, Delhi, “One of the reasons for low mortality due to COVID-19 in India is said to be the BCG vaccine which is being given to all children since 1962-63. ICMR study is to establish that and is being conducted among the elderly population. AIMS, Delhi is one of the trial sites. The work has started and the ethics committee clearance is also in place. The vaccine will be given on an OPD basis especially in people from hotspot areas.”
For testing the efficacy of the BCG vaccine in reducing the severity of COVID-19 in individuals above 60 years of age and in residing hotspot areas, the ICMR has initiated a multi-centric study. According to ICMR, over 1000 individuals have opted for the study. Dr. Rajnikant Srivastava, the spokesperson for ICMR, said, “The process has begun at NIRT, which is identified as the nodal institute to spearhead the study. It is too early to comment on the results, but we will share information when there is an update.”
The paper also pointed out other aspects that are holding back the research. It said, “Factors such as lack of clear understanding and documentation of cofounding factors between the two groups that could have influenced the transmission and infection rate, sample size, and discrepancy between the number of subjects in the group. Staff comorbidity as well as any over the counter supplements that the staff could have taken in attempts to prevent COVID-19 infection was not documented. Despite the limitations of the study, we feel that our findings of 8.6% vs 0% infection rate are significant enough to suggest the promising effectiveness of an up-to-date BCG vaccine shot in prevention of COVID-19 shot.”