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RE: Epidemics Past and Present: Polio and COVID-19

in StemSocial3 years ago

Have you checked the link between the BCG vaccine and this new coronavirus? Apparently, the rate of infections and severity of the illnesses are a lot higher where this vaccine is only optional, instead of mandatory. In most of African and European countries this vaccine is mandatory. One of the exceptions in Europe is precisely Italy, where the BCG vaccine has become optional. Maybe that was a mistake... 🤔


Hi, Thanks for that interesting input. I've looked at a few studies since reading your comment, and will look at more. Apparently the potential protective effect of the BCG vaccine is intriguing to responsible researchers. I'll link you to several studies, (I disregard WHO because I think they are subject to political pressure and only offer the least controversial judgments). The most persuasive study for me was the one conducted in Israel, which tried to factor in a number of variables, including age and ethnicity. I found the Lancet article also offered a balanced discussion, which I found persuasive.

One article in The Scientist does a through review of evidence from different sources. This seemed to be a fair and well-researched discussion and left the question open. One idea covered in this article was that vaccinated children who did not form a scar after BCG vaccination showed a weak immune response. This is exactly the finding of post-vaccination immunity in smallpox: failure to form a scar resulted in poor protection against contagion.
You probably did not expect such a long response, but I do like to pursue ideas. Yours was a very interesting one:)

I didn't know what BCG is, so I looked it up. It's not mandatory any more here in Germany (since 1998) and only used for at risk people. Interestingly, it was used in the Basque Province of Spain till 2013 - might be interesting too see whether there is a difference now between this part of Spain and others...

I didn't know about BCG either. I also had to look it up. That article from The Scientist (referred to in my comment above) is quite interesting. It seems BCG does offer protection against a variety of respiratory illnesses and protection lasts for many years. The information about the Basque Province is interesting and may help to provide insight in the future.
Thank you for your comment. I really do enjoy feedback.

That's quite interesting. I'm eager to know if this information checks out to be true... because in case it is, then there's a vaccine already. And with nearly a century of data.

If the BCG vaccine is enough, there's no need for Big Pharma to push for untested vaccines on a massive scale anymore.

I wonder how these companies will react.

I think it's premature to say we have a vaccine already. The sources cited are not asserting the efficacy of BCG. Indeed, the Israeli study showed no efficacy. The Lancet study is still pondering the possible utility of BCG vaccination, and the article in Scientist describes studies going forward with guarded optimism. I am no friend of Big Pharma, and although I applaud the development of life-protecting vaccines (ex: smallpox, polio, diphtheria, etc.) I also am aware that there are risks with every medical intervention. There are also sometimes mixed motives (and often misrepresentation of safety/efficacy) in authorities that carry out vaccination campaigns. Still, I want vaccine development for COVID to go forward. I am not so angry at Big Pharma that I am willing to risk losing lives to cut their profit margin. Perhaps what might be more reasonable is to address the obscene profit margins, across the board, in healthcare.

There was no statistically significant difference in the proportion of positive test results in the BCG-vaccinated group (361 [11.7%]) vs the unvaccinated group (299 [10.4%]; difference, 1.3%; 95% CI, −0.3% to 2.9%; P = .09) or in positivity rates per 100 000 (121 in vaccinated group vs 100 in unvaccinated group; difference, 21 per 100 000; 95% CI, −10 to 50 per 100 000; P = .15). There was 1 case of severe disease (mechanical ventilation or intensive care unit admission) in each group, and no deaths were reported

Second, whether BCG will be effective remains unknown: findings from the ecological studies suggesting less COVID-19 in countries with routine BCG immunisation are weak evidence because they are based on population rather than individual data and are prone to confounding.

Also, it is unlikely that a BCG vaccine given decades ago in childhood will ameliorate COVID-19 now. One reason for this is that the beneficial off-target effects of the BCG vaccine might be altered by subsequent administration of a different vaccine.

Third, if the BCG vaccine is not effective against COVID-19, BCG vaccination could engender a false sense of security. Fourth, careful safety monitoring in randomised trials is needed to guard against the remote possibility that up-regulation of immunity by BCG will exacerbate COVID-19 in a minority of patients with severe disease.

From the Scientist
Trials are kicking off in the Netherlands, Greece, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, and the US, says an Australian trial “we will measure whether those who get the vaccine get less COVID-19, and if they do get it, if they are unwell for less time or have less severe symptoms,”

Of course it is... after all, there isn't enough data to conclude anything.