Houston, November 22
One of the oldest vaccines for tuberculosis Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is associated with a reduced possibility of contracting the COVID-19 virus, according to a new study.
As part of the study published in The Journal Of Clinical Investigation, the researchers tested the blood of more than 6,000 healthcare workers in the Cedars-Sinai Health System for evidence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and asked them about their medical and vaccination histories.
They found that workers who had received BCG vaccinations in the past – nearly 30 per cent of those studied – were significantly less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their blood or to report having had infections with coronavirus or coronavirus-associated symptoms over the prior six months than those who had not received them.
These effects were not related to whether workers had received meningococcal, pneumococcal or influenza vaccinations.
The reasons for the lower SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels in the BCG group were not clear, according to Moshe Arditi, co-senior author of the study.
“It appears that BCG-vaccinated individuals either may have been less sick and therefore produced fewer anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, or they may have mounted a more efficient cellular immune response against the virus,” said Arditi, MD, director of the Pediatric and Infectious Diseases and Immunology Division at Cedars-Sinai and professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Sciences.
“We were interested in studying the BCG vaccine because it has long been known to have a general protective effect against a range of bacterial and viral diseases other than TB, including neonatal sepsis and respiratory infections.…