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Last Updated : Oct 28, 2020 08:52 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Coronavirus India | BCG vaccine may help fight COVID-19 in elderly patients: ICMR study

According to the ICMR study, BCG vaccine shots induce enhanced innate and adaptive immunity among elderly patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, which may help in fighting the novel coronavirus infection.

A study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has revealed that the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which is administered to prevent tuberculosis, helped in tackling COVID-19 infection among elderly patients.

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According to the ICMR study, BCG vaccine shots induce enhanced innate and adaptive immunity among elderly patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, which may help in fighting the novel coronavirus infection.

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ICMR tweeted on October 28 that "in an ongoing study, scientists at the council have found that the vaccine induces increased memory cell responses and total antibody production in elderly."

COVID-19 Vaccine

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The medical body added, "BCG vaccination induces enhanced innate and adaptive immunity in elderly individuals which may prove beneficial against the COVID virus."

Researchers in the United Kingdom are also studying the efficacy of BCG vaccine, which was developed decades ago, in fighting coronavirus infections.

The vaccine, which was developed to prevent tuberculosis, has also proven effective in preventing other infections such as meningitis. World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the BCG vaccine can "bridge the gap before a disease-specific vaccine is developed."

Some states in India such as Maharashtra have already started procuring BCG vaccines to prevent COVID-19 until a vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus is available.

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First Published on Oct 28, 2020 08:52 pm
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