Representational image
Representational imageReuters

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, popularly known as BCG vaccine, has been found reducing sickness in the COVID-19 patients.

A new study jointly conducted by the researchers from five countries shows that those who once were vaccinated with BCG suffer less than others. The severe fatigue appeared less in them as it has stimulating impact on the immune system.

However, the study could not confirm whether this BCG vaccine can resist the coronavirus infection. But, the researchers suggested extensive research to see the BCG vaccine’s impact on the novel coronavirus. BCG vaccine originally developed to treat tuberculosis.

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A total of 24 researchers from different universities and research institutions of Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Greece, and Germany commissioned the study. The study was published in the medical journal, the Cell Report Medicine, on 5 August.

The COVID-19 virus broke out in China’s Wuhan and then it travelled across the world in a very short time. Later, the WHO declared it a ‘pandemic’. Surprisingly, it did not have equal impact on every nation and region. The infection and severity were found less in some countries and regions.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the scientists across the world started studying the types and symptoms of the virus. At one stage, the impact of BCG vaccine on people in tropical regions came to the limelight, though, in April WHO said there is no scientific data on BCG vaccine’s effect on coronavirus yet.

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BCG is most widely used vaccine and is originally intended to treat tuberculosis. It bolsters the immune system in the long-run and reduces likelihood of infection in the respiratory system.

There is a research scope on BCG vaccine in our country. This kind of study may give us a clear concept about the coronavirus situation in the country.
professor Nazrul Islam, former VC, BSMMU and member, national technical committee for coronavirus

According to the government officials, Bangladesh started BCG vaccination in 1979. At present, 99 per cent Bangladeshi children are given the vaccine.

According to the researchers, 430 participants attended the study. Of them 266 were BCG vaccinated while 164 were without the vaccine. Both of the groups were infected with the COVID-19. The study was conducted on participants on two tiers on 27 February and 30 April.

The study shows the vaccinated group had milder illness than the other group. The vaccinated group suffered less from COVID-19-related fever, headache and tiredness. But, both have running nose with equal severity.

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The researchers said BCG vaccine is safe during the COVID-19. It has no serious side effect.

Although there is no reliable information regarding the infection of COVID-19 in Bangladesh, according to the government tally, the mortality rate is 1.32 per cent in Bangladesh which is less than in Europe and America. The rate is even less than that of neighbouring India (2pc) and Pakistan (2.1pc). However, the vaccination is low in the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations other than Bangladesh.

Asked about the matter, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital (BSMMU) former vice chancellor and corona-related national technical committee member professor Nazrul Islam said, “There is a research scope on BCG vaccine in our country. This kind of study may give us a clear concept about the coronavirus situation in the country.”

*This report appeared in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam