There’s been a lot of speculation about dusting off old vaccines to treat the new coronavirus, and lately, researchers are looking at using the tuberculosis vaccine to help combat the disease. The vaccine, called Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, or BCG, has been found to boost immunity in general. Additionally, countries where people have been given the vaccine have had fewer deaths from COVID-19.
According to CNN, researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found a “strong correlation between BCG vaccination and lowered COVID-19 mortality rates.” While the researchers called their findings “remarkable,” they didn’t find a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the vaccine and protection against the virus.
Dr. Denise Faustman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard University and a prominent immunologist, said that BCG boosts the innate immune system, “so whenever you see any infectious disease, you can fight it off faster.” She and her colleagues plan to begin their own clinical trials in the near future at the Faustman Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. She told CNN that several studies have supported the use of the BCG vaccine as a tool to fight the coronavirus.
Around the world, clinical trials and studies are underway to test the hypothesis that old vaccines, like BCG, which were developed to protect against other forms of bacteria and viruses, may offer some protection against the coronavirus until a proper, more specific product is developed.
However, Dr. William Schaffner, a noted professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, cautioned we need more evidence to support recommending BCG to treat COVID-19.
“It’s certainly a novel and provocative approach to trying to prevent this illness. We need all the help we can get,” he said, according to CNN. “What we’ve seen are previews of coming attractions, as they say in the movie theater. Let’s wait for the movie.”
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