Coronavirus mortality rate SIX TIMES lower in countries using BCG vaccine

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Countries with an extensive vaccination program involving Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) have a coronavirus mortality rate almost six times lower than that of countries that do not use it, a study finds.

The BCG vaccine was invented a century ago and provides immunity to tuberculosis (TB) – a bacterial infection – but it is known to have other benefits.

Previous trials have found that people who receive the jab, which costs as little as £ 30, have an improved immune system and are able to protect themselves from infection.

For example, in a trial of Native Americans, childhood BCG vaccination could offer protection against tuberculosis up to 60 years after vaccination.

The precise way in which this durable vaccine helps repel other infections is relatively unknown, but this may be by strengthening the innate mechanisms of the immune system.

These so-called off-target effects include enhanced protection against respiratory illnesses and have been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine (photo) is used to fight tuberculosis (TB), but has long been known to have other health benefits, including helping a person's immune system ward off respiratory infections

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine (photo) is used to fight tuberculosis (TB), but has long been known to have other health benefits, including helping a person’s immune system ward off respiratory infections

In the UK, all school children aged 10 to 14 received the vaccine between 1953 and 2005.

As tuberculosis infection rates declined, doctors abandoned mass vaccination and, in 2005, moved only to targeting those most at risk – such as babies whose parents are infected.

Researchers hope it will boost the immune system so that it is in an enhanced state of readiness and able to detect and destroy the virus before it takes its toll on the body.

Researchers have adjusted for factors that can skew the results, such as a country’s wealth and the percentage of seniors in its population.

They then looked at the mortality per million people in each country with sufficient data.

American researchers write in their article: “After adjusting the country’s economic status, the proportion of the elderly population and aligning the epidemic trajectories of the countries most affected, the intriguing observation of a significant association between the use of BCG and lower COVID-19 mortality remained discernible.

The results were published online on the archive site medRxiv and not in a journal because the research has not yet been peer reviewed – the process in which other academics review the research.

Experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have compiled publicly available data for analysis.

An estimate of the case fatality rate was produced from the best available mortality data for the top 50 countries reporting the highest cases.

“In order to reduce the bias centered around the differential epidemic time curves experienced by the different countries, we calculated the days from the 100th COVID-19 positive case to align the countries on a more comparable time curve”, explain the researchers.

Cases and deaths were then compared to vaccination programs for the BCG vaccine.

The average death rate also varied considerably according to a country’s economic classification.

Mortality per million COVID-19 for low, middle and upper income countries was 0.4, 0.65 and 5.5 respectively

Researchers call the fact that wealthy countries have higher mortality rates “counterintuitive”.

The BCG jab, which was used for all children aged 10 to 14, was reduced in 2005, but researchers hope it will boost the immune system so that it is in an enhanced state of readiness and capable of detecting and destroy the virus before it wreaks havoc on the body

The BCG jab, which was used for all children aged 10 to 14, was reduced in 2005, but researchers hope it will boost the immune system so that it is in an enhanced state of readiness and capable of detecting and destroy the virus before it wreaks havoc on the body

WHAT IS BCG VACCINE?

BCG is currently administered to approximately 130 million babies each year to protect them from tuberculosis.

It has the full name of “Bacillus Calmette-Guérin” and uses a weekend version of the bacteria ycobacterium bovis.

This microbe causes tuberculosis in animals such as cows and badgers.

When injected into humans, the weak bacteria are attacked by the immune system.

The body then defeats bacteria by producing antibodies.

These can then be quickly produced and deployed if a person is infected with TB itself.

BCG jab is thought to work this way, but also boosts the entire immune system, so it’s more likely to smother any invasive viral particles.

The NHS says BCG jab can offer protection up to 60 years of age – but scientists aren’t sure if adults who have already been injected in childhood are protected from coronavirus because the evidence is lacking.

Academics are unable to explain why, but point to previous research that “deaths from acute respiratory disease are generally higher in low-income countries due to multiple socio-demographic and economic risk factors”.

For example, COVID-19 is known to be more dangerous for people over the age of 65, and this demography is less populated in poor countries.

Researchers say their results should be taken with caution as several problems can distort the results.

” [But] despite all these warnings, the inverse relationship between the country’s economic status and the mortality attributable to COVID19, and the strong ecological association with BCG vaccination are intriguing ”.

“The results warrant a thorough epidemiological review and a prospective evaluation in individually randomized trials. “

Trials to assess the usefulness of the BCG vaccine in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic are already underway.

In the past month, a trial has started with 4,000 healthcare workers in Australia.

The trial will be led by researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne and will involve 4,000 health workers in hospitals across the country.

Researchers hope that administering the vaccine and boosting “innate immunity” can save enough time to develop specialized treatments and vaccines.

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