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Does a common tuberculosis vaccine work against COVID-19? Study of 55 countries offers new clues

More evidence is flowing in that a common tuberculosis vaccine may significantly improve COVID-19 outcomes, but more research is needed.

Does a common tuberculosis vaccine work against COVID-19? Study of 55 countries offers new clues
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More evidence is flowing in that a common tuberculosis vaccine may significantly improve COVID-19 outcomes.

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What’s the study?

Researchers in Israel analyzed vaccination records for the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine for people in 55 countries, comprising 63% of the world population. After controlling for 23 variables, such as demographics and in-country lockdown restrictions, they found that vaccinated populations have significantly lower COVID-19 infection and death rates. The impact was particularly positive for people under age 25, who had received the vaccine in the last 15 years. They did not find any positive effects for older adults. This mostly mirrors the findings of a smaller study from April.

Does this mean that the BCG vaccine protects against COVID-19?

Nope. The data shows a correlation, not causation. These results essentially wave a huge green flag that says study this further. Currently research trials are underway in the Netherlands and Australia to directly test whether people who receive a BCG vaccination display protection against COVID-19.

Who has had the BCG vaccine?

It was widely used in many countries, and has now been discontinued in some. Americans typically do not receive it, but travelers or those born abroad may have. The vaccine has been associated with reduced risk of a variety of bacterial, parasitic and viral infections.

Any other interesting findings?

Yep. The researchers also traced other vaccines and found no association between COVID-19 outcomes and the measles and rubella vaccines.

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