A group of doctors in the UK has initiated a clinical trial on the BCG tuberculosis vaccine to determine its efficacy in preventing COVID19 infection. This trial includes healthcare workers from the UK. Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine is used to protect people from tuberculosis (TB). However, this cheap and widely available vaccine has shown a broader immune response to fight against severe infection due to respiratory illness. This study has been done by scientists from Exeter University. They have enrolled nearly 2000 frontline care workers including nurses, caterers, and administration staff for the UK arm of the international brace trial. The UK arm of the international brace trial has enlisted 10000 volunteers worldwide as well. Healthcare workers, who have been included in the trial, have particularly been from GP surgeries and care homes.
The author of the study Professor John Campbell has said that the BCG vaccine offers immunity in a generalized way, which might prevent COVID19 infection as well. He has said that the vaccine might prove to be a game-changer if it keeps the virus and its transmission at bay. Experts have said that the volunteers will be receiving a shot of BCG or a placebo during the trial. They will be monitored for a year by the experts. Experts will see whether an immunized set of people catch fewer COVID19 infections or have less severe disease. Scientists are expected to release the preliminary results of the trial within six to nine months. In a previous study done by an international team of experts has shown that old people who have been vaccinated have developed less infection. In the trail, nearly 42.3 percent of people who have been given a placebo have developed a viral infection as compared to 25 percent of people with viral infection who have been given a shot of BCG.
The prime objective of the BCG vaccine is to stimulate an adaptive immune system. The immune system is the second line of defense of the body, which produces antibodies, and T-cells to fight off the infection said the experts. It has been developed to provided protection against TB; however, it enhances the innate immune system as well. The innate immune system is a less targeted frontline defense mechanism, which rapidly identifies the virus before it takes the hold of the body. This new study is a part of an ongoing Australian led trial. It has been launched in April 2020 and involves Spain, Brazil, and the Netherlands. As per the reports, the BCG vaccine is being tested for providing protection against COVID19 infection in South Africa as well.