South Africa commence COVID-19 trials by providing TB shots to health workers

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: May 04, 2020, 08:28 PM(IST)

A file photo of a coronavirus test.  Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) vaccine is a century-old and was created France's Pasteur Institute and it is one of the world's oldest immunisations. 

South African health workers were given a tuberculosis vaccine on Monday to check if it protects against coronavirus. 

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The Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) vaccine is a century-old and was created France's Pasteur Institute and it is one of the world's oldest immunisations. 

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Around 250 health workers were given the shots as a trial to immunisation whereas others got 250 received a dummy formula.

TASK founder professor Andreas Diacon said:  TASK founder professor Andreas Diacon said: "There are observations that this BCG vaccine does something to the immune system that we don't understand."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 300,000 people catch TB in South Africa each year, it is one of the highest rates of infection in the world where nearly 63,000 people die every year.

"It makes the immune system cope better with respiratory retract infections," said Diacon. "No one actually really understands why it works". 

"If you can reduce the (COVID-19) symptoms just a little, you will probably get people to survive this better or not even have to go to the hospital or not even becoming ill," said Diacon.

Tygerberg Hospital and a Stellenbosch University's professor Diacon said the trials focussed on health care workers as "we believe that they will be exposed most".

Trials are expected to take place with 3,000 health care workers situated in Cape Town. Similar trials are being conducted in the Netherlands, Australia and France. These participants in the country will be giving the vaccines for the first time as there is no policy for the BCG vaccines in the countries. 

(Inputs from AFP)

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