COVID-19 impact linked to national policy on BCG vaccination

A recent study linked the lowered impact of the coronavirus with the universal policies of BCG vaccination in some countries.

BCG Vaccine

BCG vaccine (Bacillus Calmette Guerin) is a commonly used vaccine that is administered to millions of children around the world. It contains live but weakened (attenuated) strains of bacteria that causes tuberculosis- Mycobacterium bovis (causes TB in cattle) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (causes TB in humans).

Uses

The BCG vaccine is used to prevent/ treat several diseases:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Leprosy
  • Non-tuberculosis Mycobacterium related infection
  • Buruli ulcer infection
  • Bladder cancer etc.

Link between BCG Vaccination Policy and COVID-19 Impact

Recent studies have recorded a lower impact of COVID-19 in countries that have a universal BCG vaccination program in place. Currently, universal vaccination using BCG vaccine is done only in some countries like India, where the TB burden is high. In many countries, only the high risk individuals are given the vaccine. The study found that COVID-19 hotspot countries like USA, Italy and Netherlands do not follow universal BCG vaccination.

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