BCG vaccine could slow down Covid-19 spread, says research but warns it’s not a ‘magic bullet’

Scientists have found that the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin or BCG slows down the rate of infection and death of the coronavirus diease. The research says that the effect is very prominent in the first 30 days of the BCG vaccination.

The research comes as countries race to find a vaccine for Covid-19, which has devastated almost the entire globe.

The study, published in American Association for the Advancement of Science, says that the United States – the worst-affected country by Covid-19 – would not have such a high fatality rate if the government there had instituted mandatory BCG vaccination several decades ago.

The findings suggest that BCG vaccination policies can be effective in fight against Covid-19. The BCG vaccine is usually given at the time of the birth of a child to prevent tuberculosis. The research says that the BCG vaccine helps develop immunity against various other infectious diseases, perhaps including Covid-19.

The experts analysed daily rate of increase of confirmed cases in 135 countries and deaths in 134 countries in the first 30-day period of each country’s outbreak. It was seen that “mandatory BCG vaccination correlated with a flattening of the curve in the spread of Covid-19”.

However, the researchers did not portray the BCG vaccine as “magic bullet” against Covid-19, and said more analysis is needed.

There are nearly 100 vaccine candidates for Covid-19 which are at different stages of research and trials across the world. In India, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan announced on Saturday that 16 vaccine candidates are in different stages of development.

“The BCG vaccine is undergoing phase 3 trial, Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine is in phase I/II trial and 4 vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of pre-clinical study,” he said.

Vardhan said that five good clinical laboratory practice clinical trial sites have been developed and six animal models for vaccine development studies are also ready.

The minister also announced the completion of pan-India 1000 genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.