South Africa: clinical trial to test effects of BCG vaccine on coronavirus

In Cape Town, a clinical trial began on Monday to test the possible beneficial effects on COVID-19 of the BCG vaccine, prescribed to protect against tuberculosis.

“Some observations suggest that BCG has effects on the immune system that we don’t yet fully understand, such as strengthening it against respiratory infections,” Professor Andreas Diacon, head of the medical research organization TASK, which is conducting the trial, told AFP.

The clinical trial will be conducted on 500 caregivers. One half will receive the BCG vaccine and the other half a placebo.

“The clinical trial has started. We vaccinated the first participants this morning,” Duncan McDonald, an official from the medical research organization TASK, told AFP Monday.

Created in 1921, the BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) vaccine officially protects against tuberculosis.

However, some researchers have shown that this vaccine, which is one of the cheapest in the world, could eventually combat the new coronavirus.

South Africa, one of the African countries worst hit by the pandemic, has decided to carry out tests to measure the impact of BCG against Covid-19.

Studies have shown that children immunized with BCG have fewer respiratory illnesses. Other work suggests that it may protect against asthma and autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.

If the results of the ongoing trials around the world prove conclusive, the BCG vaccine could rid the world of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa recorded 6,783 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on date.

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