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UK study tests if BCG vaccine protects against COVID

Sun, 11th Oct 2020 09:02

LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The widely used BCG tuberculosis
vaccine will be tested on frontline care workers in Britain for
its effectiveness against COVID-19, researchers running the UK
arm of a global trial said.

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, used to protect
against tuberculosis, induces a broad innate immune-system
response and has been shown to protect against infection or
severe illness with other respiratory pathogens.

"BCG has been shown to boost immunity in a generalised way,
which may offer some protection against COVID-19," Professor
John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said.

"We are seeking to establish whether the BCG vaccine could
help protect people who are at risk of COVID-19. If it does, we
could save lives by administering or topping up this readily
available and cost-effective vaccination."

The UK study is part of an existing Australian-led trial,
which launched in April and also has arms in the Netherlands,
Spain and Brazil. The BCG vaccine is also being tested as a
protection against COVID-19 in South Africa.

The British trial is recruiting volunteers ahead of winter
months that officials have warned may be tough as the country
grapples with a second wave of infections.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that
restrictions to curb the pandemic could be in place until
spring.

The trial's UK arm, which is being run from Exeter,
southwest England, is seeking to recruit 1,000 people who work
in care homes and community healthcare nearby.

Globally, more than 10,000 healthcare staff will be
recruited.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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