20 senior citizens in Mumbai get a dose of  anti-tuberculosis vaccine at KEM Hospital

Finally, 20 elderly volunteers aged between 60 and 80 years have been administered with the anti-tuberculosis vaccination (TB) — Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) at the King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital.

As part of the trials, which had been approved by the ICMR, an estimated 200 elderly citizens in the age group of 60 to 80, free from COVID-19 or any other ailments, will be inoculated with a dose of BCG vaccine.

“BCG vaccines are given to those volunteers who are healthy and their both RT-PCR and antigen testing turn out to be negative. It is a multi-centric study,” said a doctor.

The BCG vaccine is given when children are young and is expected to last for 40 to 50 years, during which they are expected to develop strong immunity towards tuberculosis, he said. The persons vaccinated in the trial will be first checked after 28 days.

“We will check how they have responded after the inoculation and test them for antibody titer. We will keep checking them over a period of time to see how long the antibody cover is available and how the person responds with the cover,” Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC.

Often Covid-19 patients develop inflammatory reactions which lead to severity of their infection and even death. In this backdrop, doctors have opined that BCG vaccination, by enhancing innate immune response, may have deleterious effects on coronavirus. “Several researches have shown a correlation that people who received BCG vaccination did not get sick more often or become seriously ill. It has long-lasting effects to boost the immune system. It is believed that despite having such a huge population, Covid-19 fatality rate in India is low because of the BCG vaccine which is given to all children since the early 90s,” said Dr Lalit Anande, medical superintendent of Sewri TB Hospital.

Impact of routine infant BCG vaccination in the young generation on prevention of local Covid-19 spread in Japan” — a study published on August 11 — suggested that BCG vaccination does play an influential role in protecting against the spread of infection on a mass scale. The authors wrote, “Our findings suggest that routine infant BCG vaccination coverage in the young generation had a significant impact on prevention of local Covid-19 spread in Japan.”

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