VACCINES – This is one track among many, but it is considered serious enough to be tested on a larger scale and in several countries. Friday, March 27, a team of Australian researchers announced that they have undertaken to test on a large scale the BCG vaccine, which has been used for decades against tuberculosis, to verify if it can protect healthcare workers from the coronavirus epidemic .
The test for the vaccine will involve a total of some 4,000 caregivers in Australian hospitals to verify its ability to reduce symptoms of Covid-19, researchers at the Murdoch Institute in Melbourne said.
Similar tests will also be carried out in other countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.
On the French side, the Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon confirmed this Sunday during his daily press briefing that it was indeed “one of the research hypotheses on which we are working with our European colleagues”, citing the Countries- Low.
Jérôme Salomon however clarified that the case of France was different from its neighbors, the vaccination rate being much higher there. “The French are massively vaccinated against BCG. It’s a French specificity. And the vaccine is mandatory for healthcare professionals. […] We do not have the same situation in France as in other countries where BCG is not compulsory, or not at all offered, “he added, pointing to the case of the United States.
Boost immune defenses
According to the different scenarios under study, BCG would not prevent vaccinated people from contracting the coronavirus, but could help reduce the most dangerous effects. “Although originally developed for tuberculosis and still administered to over 130 million babies each year, BCG also boosts the body’s basic immune capabilities, helping it respond to germs with more strength ”, specify the Australian researchers in their press release.
“We hope to see a reduction in the frequency and severity of Covid-19 symptoms in healthcare workers who have been vaccinated with BCG,” said team leader Nigel Curtis.
The exacerbated forms of Covid-19 come from an overly strong response from our immune defenses. According to Laurent Lagrost, director of research at Inserm, which recently worked on Europe1, the BCG vaccine could help our immune defenses to adapt and learn to fight against severe forms of infectious diseases.
“It would not be the first time that BCG has effects other than those on tuberculosis,” said his side in Point Professor Camille Locht, Inserm research director at the Institut Pasteur in Lille. However, not sure that the old vaccination campaigns are enough to protect the French population.
“Since BCG-induced immunity is around 5 to 7 years, their protection – if it still exists – must be very weak. But a new injection can “wake up” immunity in a matter of hours or days. And why not help the body to fight against this new virus ”, assumes the researcher.
If true, the BCG track could explain why the youngest, who have been vaccinated more recently, are statistically less affected by Covid-19 and its most dangerous forms. But that, only large-scale tests will determine it.
“In France, we are trying to launch a somewhat similar study in consultation with other countries, including Spain,” warns Camille Locht. The results will come “in a few months. In the meantime, nothing justifies the fact of being vaccinated in the context of the Covid-19 ″.
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