Tuberculosis Vaccine Being Tested Against COVID-19

March 30, 2020 Updated: March 30, 2020

A vaccine against tuberculosis—an infectious disease that typically attacks the lungs—is being given to health care workers in Australia as a trial to see if it will protect them against the CCP virus.

The Epoch Times refers to the virus commonly known as novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, as the CCP virus due to the Chinese Communist Party’s initial mishandling and coverup of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, contributing to its global spread.

Some 4,000 health care workers in Melbourne have volunteered for the trial, which involves the tuberculosis vaccine, known as the bacillus Calmette-Guerin, or BCG shot, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) said in a statement.

Epoch Times Photo
Vials of smallpox vaccine sit on a counter before a vaccination at a facility in Altamonte Springs, Florida, on Dec. 16, 2002. (Chris Livingston/Getty Images)

The trial is to start Monday, March 30, Bloomberg reported.

Infectious disease researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne will lead the trial. It is to last six months and will involve some of the volunteers, randomly selected, receiving the BCG shot and a seasonal flu shot, while others will receive just the flu vaccine.

“Australian medical researchers have a reputation for conducting rigorous, innovative trials,” said MCRI Director Professor Kathryn North, according to RACGP.

“This trial will allow the vaccine’s effectiveness against COVID-19 symptoms to be properly tested, and may help save the lives of our heroic frontline healthcare workers,” North said.

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The virus that causes the COVID-19 disease in an illustration. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The tuberculosis vaccine has been used for around a century and has shown encouraging results in bolstering the body’s immune system more generally to resist infection.

“It can boost the immune system so that it defends better against a whole range of different infections, a whole range of different viruses and bacteria in a lot more generalized way,” said Nigel Curtis, head of MCRI’s Infectious Diseases Research Group, according to Bloomberg.

Studies published in recent decades by Danish researchers Peter Aaby and Christine Stabell Benn found the BCG vaccine prevented around 30 percent of infections with any known pathogen, including viruses, in the first year after it was administered, Science Mag reported.

A 2014 review ordered (pdf) by the World Health Organization found the BCG vaccine lowered mortality in children, but expressed “very low” confidence in the results. A 2016 study provided more encouraging results but called for randomized trials.

Curtis said the trials in Melbourne would build on the previous body of scientific work around the BCG shot.

“We hope to see a reduction in the prevalence and severity of COVID-19 symptoms in healthcare workers receiving the BCG vaccination,” Curtis said, according to RACGP.

The Melbourne trial follows reports of a similar initiative in the Netherlands. According to Science Mag, around 1,000 health care workers in eight Dutch hospitals last week were to kick off the first of the BCG trials. Some of the volunteers would receive the BCG shot, others would get a placebo.

Curtis told Bloomberg there are discussions about expanding the BCG trial to other Australian cities, as well as Boston.

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