BCG vaccines cut coronavirus death rate by 10 times: Study

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BCG vaccines cut coronavirus death rate by 10 times: Study
BCG vaccines cut coronavirus death rate by 10 times: Study

New Delhi : Countries with mandatory Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccinations have registered coronavirus death rate less by 10 times as compared to the ones without it, a new study has shown, The Economic Times reported.

In many countries like India, Japan and Brazil, the BCG vaccine is administered at the time of birth. Many rich countries like the US, the Netherlands or Italy - all suffering widely from the coronavirus - do not incorporate this.

The study has been co-authored by Paul Hegarty and Helen Zafirakis from Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Ireland, Andrew DiNardo from the Baylor College of Medicine in, Houston, Texas, and Dr Ashish Kamath, a professor of Urologic Oncology (Surgery) and cancer research at MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas.

It is currently under review for the publication by many science journals.

The study analysed a dataset from 178 countries of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and deaths recorded from March 9-24 (15 days). This included 21 countries with no vaccination programme and 26 where the status is unspecified – both treated as having no programme.

During the analysis, it has been found that the occurrence in countries without BCG vaccination was 358.4 per million compared to 38.4 per million in those with the vaccination. The death rate in countries without the vaccination programme is 40 per million compared to 4.28 per million in countries with the programme.

Dr Kamath said the protective effect of BCG was expected as "peer reviewed studies show effectiveness of BCG vaccine to confer protective immunity against viral infection", but the magnitude of difference was "pleasantly surprising".

As per Dr Kamath, his institution is starting its own clinical trial with around 1,000 healthcare workers and has plans to expand as demand increases. The data will be under watch of the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

"We will vaccinate healthcare workers at highest risk first, such as those who work in emergency centres, ICUs and watch for how protective the vaccine proves," he said and added that talks are also on for India to take part in the study.

The study does note that there may be "confounding factors in the correlation, but the trend is striking".