Study tests tuberculosis vaccine against coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Social distancing signs on the street outside the Royal Opera House, London, UK, July 6, 2020. REUTERS / John Sibley / Photoaris Archive reuters_tickers

This content was published on October 11, 2020 – 10:20

LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) – The widely used BCG tuberculosis vaccine will be tested on frontline healthcare workers in the UK for its effectiveness against COVID-19 disease, researchers leading the British branch of a world trial.

The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, used to protect against tuberculosis, induces a broad response of the immune system and has shown efficacy in protecting against infection or serious illness with other respiratory pathogens.

“BCG has been shown to increase immunity in a generalized way, which may offer some protection in the case of COVID-19 disease,” said Professor John Campbell from the University of Exeter School of Medicine.

“We are trying to determine if the BCG vaccine could help protect people who are at risk from COVID-19. If so, we could save lives by administering or completing this vaccine, which is now available and inexpensive.”

The British study is part of an existing Australian-led trial, which began in April and also has arms in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil. The BCG vaccine is also being tested for protection against COVID-19 in South Africa.

The British arm of the trial, which is run from Exeter in the southwest of England, aims to recruit 1,000 people to work in residences and healthcare.

Globally, more than 10,000 health workers will be recruited.

(Information from Alistair Smout; edited by Christina Fincher; translated by Tomás Cobos)

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