Graphic shows difference in Covid-19 cases in selected countries that recently had mandatory BCG vaccination.
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By Duncan Mil

April 3, 2020 - A new study finds a correlation between countries that require citizens to get the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine and those showing fewer confirmed cases and deaths from Covid-19.

The century-old BCG vaccine increases immunity to tuberculosis (TB) -- a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

Now, a study posted on medRxiv -- led by Gonzalo Otazu, assistant professor at the New York Institute of Technology -- analysed numbers of Covid-19 cases in Japan and South Korea, which have managed to control the disease. Both countries have universal BCG vaccine policies, Otazu reported. Data on confirmed cases from low-income countries were considered not reliable enough to make a sound judgment.

Researchers are to roll out tests across four countries. Some 4,000 health workers in hospitals across Australia and 1000 health care workers in eight Dutch hospitals will receive the vaccine or a placebo.

Additional trials will take place in Boston, Massachusetts, and at Exeter University in the UK.

Studies on infants in Africa revealed that the BCG vaccine protects the body’s innate immune system and stimulates white blood cells to fight off pathogens other than the TB bacterium.

If successful, it could mean the vaccine -- which costs as little as €34 (£30, $36) a dose -- could provide a cheap and readily available method of warding off coronavirus.

PUBLISHED: 03/04/2020; STORY: Graphic News
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