Can an Old Vaccine Stop the New Coronavirus?
Source: New York Times
A tuberculosis vaccine invented a century ago is cheap and safe, and seems to bolster the body’s immune system.
By Roni Caryn Rabin
A vaccine that was developed a hundred years ago to fight the tuberculosis scourge in Europe is now being tested against the coronavirus by scientists eager to find a quick way to protect health care workers, among others.
The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine is still widely used in the developing world, where scientists have found that it does more than prevent TB. The vaccine prevents infant deaths from a variety of causes, and sharply reduces the incidence of respiratory infections.
The vaccine seems to “train” the immune system to recognize and respond to a variety of infections, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, experts say. There is little evidence yet that the vaccine will blunt infection with the coronavirus, but a series of clinical trials may answer the question in just months.
On Monday, scientists in Melbourne, Australia, started administering the B.C.G. vaccine or a placebo to thousands of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other health care workers — the first of several randomized controlled trials intended to test the vaccine’s effectiveness against the coronavirus.
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“We project that roughly 56 percent of our population – 25.5 million people – will be infected with the virus over an eight week period,” Governor Newsom of California wrote on 3/19/2020.