TB vaccine clinical trial starts to see whether it reduces Covid -19 infection.
A clinical trial is scheduled to commence in Cape Town to see whether the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, named after two French microbiologists, may reduce the probability of Covid-19 infection.
BCG has been given to more than 4 billion individuals, making it the most widely administered vaccine globally.
Because BCG protects babies against some viral infections in addition to TB, researches from around the world decided to
compare data from countries with and without mandatory BCG vaccinations to see whether immunisation policies are linked to the number or severity of Covid-19 infections.
A handful of preprint publications in the last two months noted that countries with ongoing BCG vaccinations programmes are experiencing lower death rates from Covid -19 than those without.
The new clinical study in South Africa will be conducted by the Bellville based clinical research team TASK and will be led by Professor Andreas Diacon,
TASK CEO and lecturer at Stellenbosch University. This trial will determine if the TB vaccine reduces the probability of Covid-19 infection and the severity of the symptoms.
Although there is no conclusive evidence that the BCG vaccine protects against infection with Covid-19 at this stage,
it could lessen the severity and impact of the virus. South Africa has used the BCG drug for many years, as part of its widespread Tuberculosis vaccination program.
At least 500 health care workers in the Western Cape will partake in this trial, which will mainly be conducted from the Tygerberg Hospital in Parow.
The trial will test whether the BCG vaccine influences the rate of infection or the severity of the infection. Some health care workers will be given a
placebo and others will be vaccinated with BCG.
Those health care workers who face the greatest risk of being infected by Covid-19 will update researchers on whether or not they contract the virus.
If the BCG vaccine is proven to protect against Covid-19 the study will recommend that all health care workers in South Africa be vaccinated.
Sources: Cape Talk, The Scientist
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