Universal BCG vaccination against TB in India help the country contain corona spread, many have argued. But, World Health Organisation (WHO) says that there is no evidence yet. Still more studies are coming out in support of this thesis.
Responding to the reports, the WHO clearly stated that there is no evidence that the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) protects people against infection with COVID-19 virus. “Two clinical trials addressing this question are underway, and WHO will evaluate the evidence when it is available. In the absence of evidence, WHO does not recommend BCG vaccination for the prevention of COVID-19. WHO continues to recommend neonatal BCG vaccination in countries or settings with a high incidence of tuberculosis,” according to the WHO statement.
But as the latest report in support of this theory, a new University of Michigan report that mandatory BCG vaccination flattened curves for the spread of COVID-19″, based on analysis of data from 50 countries. The study also noted that US could have lesser infections, if there was this vaccination.
The study further observed that vaccination may be seen as a prosocial act. People who are not vaccinated can be protected as long as enough other people are, especially in the U.S., which does not mandate BCG.
But this is not the first such study. Earlier one study noted that countries like Italy, Netherlands and USA, which don’t follow universal BCG vaccination, had higher cases of covid-19.
“There have been reports that the BCG vaccine can produce broad protection against respiratory infections,” Gonzalo Otazu, a researcher at the New York Institute of Technology. “We looked at the data: countries that never implemented a universal BCG vaccine were being hit hard by COVID-19, with a high number of deaths per capita.”
Japan, which has taken less stringent containment measures has a universal tuberculosis vaccination policy, reported less cases compared to Italy.
Japan started its universal BCG vaccination policy in 1947 while the Iranian policy was put in place in 1984. Japan has about 100 fewer deaths per million inhabitants than Iran, they found.
The difference was also seen between the Western and Eastern Europe, because universal tuberculosis vaccination policies were widely spread in the countries of the former Soviet Union (USSR).
The eastern states of Germany, which were part of the USSR as East Germany until reunification in 1990, have lower numbers of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Robert Koch Institute’s national tally:
Meanwhile, a team of Australian researchers started testing the tuberculosis vaccine on a large scale to see if it can protect healthcare staff from the coronavirus. About 4,000 Australian hospital workers will participate in the clinical trial that will seek to determine if the tuberculosis vaccine can reduce symptoms of COVID-19, researchers at the Murdoch Institute in Melbourne said.
Similar tests will also be carried out in other countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.