Widely used Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) vaccine, used to prevent childhood tuberculosis is also an alternative to reduce death chances from the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19.
The vaccine is also helpful to prevent severe infection and death from COVID-19.
Recently, a student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Delhi revealed a study, according to which, quality of prevention from severe infections and death due to COVID-19 could be curable with the BCG vaccine.
The study was also published in Cell Death and Disease, which is a part of the Nature group of journals.
Another research study regarding the BCG vaccine was published in the United States of America (U.S.A.)
The National Academy of Sciences in the U.S.A., also linked BCG vaccination with reduced COVID-19 deaths.
Govardhan Das, the Chairperson of the Centre for Molecular Medicine in JNU, after studying the study report of the JNU student, said, “Those who got BCG vaccination, not just in India but in other countries, are more protected than those who were not, shows this analysis of data for countries with over 1,000 reported cases. We think BCG-mediated immune response would help in lowering both incidence and severity of infection.”
The six major BCG strains that now account for at least 90% of the BCG vaccines employed worldwide are Pasteur, Danish, Glaxo 1077 (derived from the Danish strain), Tokyo, Russia, and Moreau.
Mr. Das said, “The data shows that BCG offers some degree of protection against COVID-19, but all the countries (that give BCG vaccines to their children) do not do equally well, so we looked at which strain offered better protection. We analysed all the strains being used and found that some of the strains, such as BCG Mix, BCG Pasteur, and BCG Tokyo do better compared to others, such as BCG Russia and BCG Danish. India uses BCG Mix vaccine,” said Das.
According to sources, BCG vaccination of children started in 1949 in India.
The vaccine is precisely used for children to protect them from disseminated TB and meningitis in childhood.
However, the BCG vaccine is not helpful for adults to be protected from TB.
Explaining the use of BCG for COVID-19 patients, Mr. Das said “BCG is a potent immune modulator, especially of the cell mediated immunity. BCG has protective effects against leprosy, buruli ulcer, bladder cancer, type 1 diabetes and several other diseases, including those not associated with mycobacteria. Macaques immunised with BCG have incidence of pulmonary infections, which led to a proposal for BCG immunisation for the prevention against various respiratory infections. Since COVID-19 is also a respiratory infection, it gives another basis for the study.”
However, the study does not make it reliable drug or vaccine for COVID-19 until successful trials happen.
Epidemiologists across India are not yet convinced with the use of the BCG as an option to save COVID-19 patients.
Processor Madhukar Pai, Director of McGill Global Health Programmes, Canada,said, “Several countries now have rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreaks, including Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico, Peru, Chile. And they all routinely give BCG at birth. So, it is dangerous to make conclusions in such a dynamic situation. We simply cannot act on these correlations and must wait for randomised trials on BCG and COVID-19.
What are the drugs doctors and hospitals are using to cure COVID-19 patients?
As of now, doctors are using Dexamethasone, plasma therapy and mix of several medications to treat severe cases of the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19.
However, there is no proven cure for the disease till date.
Many scientists and medical experts are trying to come up with a vaccine to cure the disease.
Meanwhile, the Novel Coronavirus infection infected as many as 13,229,692 people and claimed 574,981 lives till the 14th of July, globally.
Stay tuned for further updates.