BCG, A Century Old Vaccine Against Covid: Science and Sense – Sangam Talk By Dr. Gobardhan Das

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the infection a pandemic due its alarming levels of worldwide spread, disease severity and associated high fatalities. In absence of an effective vaccine and antiviral interventions, the infection has spread globally and particularly affected older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions. In light of its unprecedented transmissibility, asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic virus shedding, high proportion of patients with mild symptoms, and evidence for super-spreading, the development of a vaccine is critical to prevent and ultimately eradicate SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Here, we show that both disease incidence and mortality due to COVID-19 are inversely proportional to vaccination with Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), as inferred from data for countries with over 1,000 reported COVID-19 cases and either absent, discontinued, or continuous BCG vaccination. We found that across all age groups disease incidence and mortality were profoundly higher in countries without vaccination as compared with countries with universal vaccination. In countries that discontinued universal vaccination COVID-19 incidence was intermediate between these two groups, although mortality rates were similar to the unvaccinated countries. Taken together, our findings have revealed an association between BCG immunization and protection against COVID-19 disease and mortality.

About Speaker: –

Dr Gobardhan Das is an immunologist and professor in Molecular Medicine at JNU. He was previously a senior scientist at International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. (Read More)

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