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Home / Science / Health /  BCG vaccine may provide immunity against COVID-19 among elderly: Report

BCG vaccine may provide immunity against COVID-19 among elderly: Report

The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the BCG vaccine in reducing morbidity and mortality in elderly individuals in covid-19 hotspots in India

'Our study also reveals an effect of BCG in inducing heightened total antibody levels,' the authors said

The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine that protects children against infections such as tuberculosis and leprosy may provide effective immunity against covid-19 to the elderly, a study done by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found.

The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine that protects children against infections such as tuberculosis and leprosy may provide effective immunity against covid-19 to the elderly, a study done by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found.

The scientists examined the induction of T cell, B cell, monocyte, and dendritic cell subsets in response to BCG vaccination in elderly individuals at baseline and one-month post vaccination BCG. The ICMR scientists found that vaccination resulted in elevated levels of all antibody isotypes.

The scientists examined the induction of T cell, B cell, monocyte, and dendritic cell subsets in response to BCG vaccination in elderly individuals at baseline and one-month post vaccination BCG. The ICMR scientists found that vaccination resulted in elevated levels of all antibody isotypes.

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Memory T cells are important in providing vaccine-induced protection against infections in elderly individuals. Dendritic cells (DCs) (comprising variety of subsets) are the most efficient antigen-presenting cells of the immune system which are required to induce and disperse the immune responses. BCG vaccine is given at birth and a part of the universal immunisation program in India.

“We demonstrate that BCG vaccination induces significantly enhanced memory T and B cell responses and increased frequencies of DC subsets, as well as total antibody levels, suggesting that BCG can potentially boost immune responses in a non -specific or off-target manner in these elderly individuals," said the study.

The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the BCG vaccine in reducing morbidity and mortality in elderly individuals in covid-19 hotspots in India. Elderly individuals, between 60 - 80 years of age, residing in hotspots for SARS-Cov2 infection were included in the study between July 2020 and September 2020 in Chennai.

BCG vaccine a live – attenuated vaccine strain of Myobacterium bovis provides protection against mycobacterial infections. In addition to protective immunity to mycobacterial infections, BCG is also known to protect against heterologous infections means off-target or non – specific effects. Several epidemiological studies have shown a reduction in childhood mortality in BCG vaccinated children as well as lower incidence of respiratory infections. In addition, randomized controlled trials have shown that BCG vaccination protects against childhood mortality mainly by providing protection against neonatal sepsis and respiratory infections.

The study has suggested that non-specific or bystander infections are more likely to be protected against in BCG vaccinated individuals. These data fit very well with the recent finding that BCG vaccination in elderly patients was associated with increased time to first infection and protection against viral respiratory pathogens.

“Our study highlights the effect of BCG vaccination in modulating the frequencies of both innate and adaptive immune cell subsets. Our study also reveals an effect of BCG in inducing heightened total antibody levels," the authors said. The study however is yet to be peer reviewed.

Elderly individuals are one of the main target groups for morbidity and mortality. The maximum number of deaths have occurred among the elderly with comorbidities in India. Several clinical trials are currently underway to examine the effect of BCG vaccination in protecting health care workers and other individuals from SARS-CoV2 infection or disease.

Meanwhile, the total number of covid-19 cases in India neared 80 lakhs and deaths reached 1,20,604 on Wednesday. At least 43,893 new cases have been registered in the last 24 hours in the country. Around 79% of new confirmed cases are from 10 States and UTs. Kerala has overtaken Maharashtra with the highest number of new reported cases. Both are still contributing more than 5,000 new cases. The States which are reporting spurt in cases are Delhi, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, according to the government. At least 508 case fatalities have been reported in the past 24 hours. Of these, nearly 79% are concentrated in ten States/UTs. Maharashtra has contributed the maximum to the new fatalities with 115 deaths.

With 10,66,786 tests in the last 24 hours, the cumulative number of covid-19 tests conducted has crossed 10.5 Crore (10,54,87,680) in India. The active cases comprise merely 7.64% of the total positive cases of the country standing at 6,10,803. The total recovered cases are 72,59,509, the government said.

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