A tuberculosis vaccine routinely given to children in countries with high rates of the bacterial disease might be helping to reduce deaths from Covid-19, researchers say.
After accounting for differences in factors that might affect vulnerability to the coronavirus – such as income, education, health services and age distribution – the scientists found countries with higher rates of Bacille Calmette-Guarin (BCG) vaccinations for tuberculosis had lower peak mortality rates from Covid-19.
A good example was Germany, which had different vaccine plans before East Germany and West Germany were unified in 1990, the researchers said. Covid-19 mortality rates among senior citizens are nearly three times higher in western Germany than in eastern Germany, where more older people received the vaccine as infants, they found.
The findings were reported on Thursday in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Study co-author Luis Escobar of Virginia Tech said in a press statement BCG vaccines have been shown to protect against other viral respiratory illnesses. Dr Escobar cautioned the new findings are preliminary. The BCG vaccine is currently being tested for preventing Covid-19 in healthcare workers.