With scientists across the world burning the midnight oil to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, every week a potential life-saver emerges. The latest in this long list of possible vaccines to the coronavirus is an age-old combination: Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, better known as BCG. BCG, used as a vaccine against tuberculosis (TB), is being trialled for Covid-19 in Australia. Thousands of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other health care workers are taking part in the randomised controlled trial, reports the New York Times. A clinical trial has also begun in the Netherlands. The Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston is seeking permission to do so, saying there is strong data that BCG is effective against viral and parasitic infections.
While it is still early days to bet on one single vaccine, BCG’s emergence is particularly important for India. India is among the many developing countries that have had BCG vaccination drive for many years — a policy to combat TB, which according to the World TB Report, 2019, kills 1,200 a day in India. A correlation study of 178 countries by an Irish medical consultant working with epidemiologists at the University of Texas in Houston shows countries with vaccination programmes — including Ireland — have far fewer coronavirus cases by a factor 10, compared to where BCG programmes are no longer deployed.