(Daily News Scan - DNS English) TB Vaccine Against COVID-19


(Daily News Scan - DNS English) TB Vaccine Against COVID-19


India, like other Asian, African, and Latin American countries, has a national BCG vaccination policy for all at birth. This BCG vaccine is used against tuberculosis. Trials have been going on globally for finding the efficacy of tuberculosis vaccine against Covid -19. One such trial of the vaccine is about to come in INDIA. This will be a 10 month trial to be conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on the BCG vaccine.

In this DNS we will know about BCG vaccine and What will ICMR’s upcoming study on BCG vaccine look at?

BCG, or Bacille Calmette-Guerin, is a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) disease. The bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine has existed for years and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines. BCG is a vaccine that uses a live attenuated strain (potency of the pathogen artificially disabled, but identifying characters retained) derived from an isolate of Mycobacterium Bovis. BCG is used in many countries with a high prevalence of TB to prevent childhood tuberculosis meningitis and miliary disease. In countries where tuberculosis or leprosy is common, one dose is recommended in healthy babies as close to the time of birth as possible.

If we talk about INDIA, 91.9 per cent of children between the ages of 12 and 23 months have received the vaccine, according to the National Family Health Survey. According to the National Health Profile, India has a production capacity of 2,800 lakh BCG vaccine doses.

The trial that the ICMR is planning to do, will focus on the vaccine’s potential in reducing the chance of Covid-19 death among those who are above age 60. One of the lead ICMR scientist said that new finalised details of this study, results could be seen as early as March 2021. The study will include 1,450 elderly people in six red and orange zones: King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, Mumbai; All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi; National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT), Chennai; National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad; National Institute in Environmental Health (NIREH), Bhopal; and National Institute for Implementation Research on Non-Communicable Diseases (NIIRNCD), Jodhpur.

Apart from ICMR’s studies, institutional-level trials in Rohtak, Pune, Visakhapatnam, and Bhubaneswar are also assessing the potential. THE BCG vaccine has been studied in research on Covid around the world. A pre-print, population-level study by New York researchers on March 28 suggested that countries with lower vaccination and without universal BCG vaccination (such as Italy and US) saw higher Covid-19 fatalities. The study compared this pattern to countries such as South Korea and Japan, which have standing policies on the topic. The data shows a protective effect but there is no definite proof.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also initiated trials to ascertain the potential vaccine, but has not recommended it for Covid-19 prevention. Studies are ongoing in Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, the US, and several other countries.

One of the recent study in the Journal of American Medical Association found no effectiveness of BCG vaccines in Israel, which used to have a universal policy and then shifted in 1982 to only vaccinate immigrants.

One of the study seeks to assess the incidence of Covid-19 amongst healthcare workers who were taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as well as any side effects from the drug’s use. The results of the same will be available in the month of July. In the HCQ study, researchers are looking at 1,200 to 1,500 healthcare workers who do not have Covid-19 to find out how many who have taken the drug develop Covid-19, compared to those who have not. Begun this month, the study has started at 5 places: AIIMS Bhubaneswar, AIIMS Jodhpur, AIIMS Patna, Apollo Hospital in Chennai, Maulana Azad Medical College in Delhi, and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi.

Not only this the ICMR is also accepting applications nationwide to study the effectiveness of plasma therapy, which injects antibodies from a recovered patient into a severely ill patient.

For now the trials by the ICMR of the BCG vaccine and the result of it against COVID-19 is a long wait of approximately 10 months. Still there is a lot of time to prove its efficacy.