A vaccine used for decades to prevent tuberculosis (TB) will be fast-tracked by Australian researchers in a large-scale human test to see if it can protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.
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The trial will be run by infectious disease researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) to determine whether the immune response-boosting effect of the BCG vaccine can protect against the novel coronavirus, given it has been shown to be effective against similar viruses.
"Although originally developed against tuberculosis, and still given to over 130 million babies annually for that purpose, BCG also boosts humans' 'frontline' immunity, training it to respond to germs with greater intensity," they said in a statement.
Lead researcher, Professor Nigel Curtis, said: "We hope to see a reduction in the prevalence and severity of COVID-19 symptoms in healthcare workers receiving the BCG vaccination," adding that 4,000 workers would be in the trial.
A number of those working on the frontlines have been infected with coronavirus already, while ongoing personal protective equipment shortages have left doctors, nurses and hospital workers vulnerable.
MCRI Director Professor Kathryn North said, "This trial will allow the vaccine’s effectiveness against COVID-19 symptoms to be properly tested, and may help save the lives of our heroic frontline healthcare workers."
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has more information on coronavirus available on its website.