Even though multiple clinical trials are being conducted right now, scientists are yet to discover an effective vaccine candidate or treatment. While many have shown promising results during the earlier phases, regulators still require more follow-up studies to determine the overall safety of these drugs. According to experts, the risk of death from COVID-19 is supposedly lower than other diseases, but there are certain treatments that could reduce it. Reportedly, the latest development suggests that a tuberculosis vaccine might help.

Based on vulnerabilities studies that take into consideration education, healthcare systems, age, and income as possible factors for SARS-CoV-2 mortality, researchers stumbled on a trend. It appears countries with more people inoculated with Bacille Calmette-Guarin (BCG) purportedly had lower death rates. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published the abstract last week.

The study pointed out an example where it compared vaccine plans implemented by East Germany and West Germany before its unification. The former reported lower death rates among the elderly compared to the latter. This was attributed to the vaccination received by the individuals as infants. Virginia Tech's Dr. Luis Escobar noted in a recent statement that "BCG vaccines have been shown to protect against other viral respiratory illnesses."

"There is ample epidemiological evidence that BCG vaccination has broad protective effects that are not specific to M. tuberculosis infection. For example, in 1927, Swedish children who received BCG vaccination at birth had a mortality rate almost threefold lower than unvaccinated children," detailed the paper. "This decrease of mortality could not be explained by TB infection, and thus, early on, it was suggested that the very low mortality among BCG-vaccinated children may be caused by nonspecific immunity," it added.

coronavirus vaccine
Well over 100 labs around the world are scrambling to come up with a vaccine against the novel coronavirus Photo: AFP / Mladen ANTONOV

Authors of the research caution that the findings are not yet final. Moreover, preliminary testing is still underway with healthcare workers given the BCG vaccine. In related news, several vaccines that have performed favourably in their respective trails now companies are debating whether to push for human challenge trials. It was confirmed that antibodies were generated by the immune system in response to the medication. However, it remains to be seen if it will have the desired outcome when volunteers are exposed to the 2019 novel coronavirus naturally.