Researchers across the world are racing against time to find a solution to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. With many studies reaching the vital stage of testing, a research institute in Australia is developing medicine based on Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG)—the vaccine used against tuberculosis (TB)—to fight the pandemic.
According to Medical News Today, Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia (MCRI) has started a trial to ascertain if BCG will prove helpful in containing COVID-19.
Reasons for the development of a BCG-based vaccine
There are two major factors behind the researchers choosing to develop a medicine based on the BCG vaccine. Firstly, testing an already approved medicine is easier and relatively is less time consuming compared to developing a medicine from scratch.
If a vaccine or any medicine developed is entirely new, the duration required for it to reach the trial stage is longer. But modifications of approved medicines that are already in use do not require much time.
Accordingly, the MCRI is all set to try the new medicine on at least 4,000 frontline medical staff in hospitals across Australia. Even if it cannot be considered a complete solution, the researchers are currently trying to reduce the severity of symptoms of coronavirus.
The second factor is the findings that the TB vaccine has proved useful in reducing the risk of respiratory infections. A study conducted in Guinea-Bissau found that BCG vaccination may have a nontargeted protective effect against acute lower respiratory tract infection.
BCG vaccination at birth may reduce chances of respiratory infections
According to Medical News Today, data from a study of Spanish hospitals stated that there are chances that the BCG vaccine at birth can reduce the risk of respiratory infection and sepsis in children. The study conducted in Brazil stated that BCG immunization reduces risk of pneumonia mortality in children. This finding suggests that BCG can improve immunity that can prove effective in containing or keep COVID-19 at bay.
The fact that BCG medication was approved long ago makes it easy to expedite it to the testing stages. BCG vaccine was first used in 1921. It finds a place in the list of essential medicines by the World Health Organization (WHO). Reports claim that at least 100 million babies are given BCG vaccination every year.