Scientists have discovered new hope through their efforts to stop the coronavirus pandemic. The BCG vaccine that has been in use in India for 72 years, is now acknowledged by the world to be helpful in fighting COVID-19. According to a study by the New York Institute of Technology’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, in countries like the US and Italy that do not have a BCG vaccination policy, cases of corona are more common and deaths are also increasing. At the same time, deaths in countries like Japan and Brazil which have BCG vaccines are less than in Italy and America.
First, let’s understand what is BCG?
BCG or “Bacillus Calmette–Guérin” is a vaccine used to prevent TB and respiratory diseases. BCG is applied between six months after birth. It was first used in the world in 1920. In a country like Brazil, this vaccine has been in use ever since.
What does a BCG vaccine contain?
This vaccine contains the strains of bacterium that causes lung tuberculosis in humans. The strain is named as Mycobacterium Bovis. During vaccine making, the strength of active bacteria is reduced so that it does not cause disease in healthy people. It is called an active ingredient in the language of medicine. Also, the vaccine contains sodium, potassium and magnesium salts, glycerol and citric acid.
Does the BCG vaccine also fight the virus?
No. According to medical science, the BCG vaccine gives immunity to combat bacteria. This gives immunity to the body, from which it can withstand the attack of microbes. However, the corona is a virus, not bacteria. But according to the study, it is possible that due to the good immunity of the body, this vaccine can help in fighting the corona, but research is still going on.
How did BCG’s got appear in a study involving Corona?
The New York Institute of Technology’s Department of Biomedical Sciences did a study. This study came out on 21 March. Its purpose was to find out the effect of BCG vaccination and its effects on coronavirus. The study also, compared countries like Italy, America, Lebanon, Netherlands, and Belgium that do not have BCG vaccination policy, to countries such as Japan, Brazil, China, where BCG vaccination policy is available. China was considered as an exception in this, as Coronavirus originated from this country.
What did they find in the study?
Scientists have found that BCG vaccination helps fight diseases such as viral infections and sepsis. This raised hopes that BCG vaccination may play an important role in Corona related cases. Scientists arrived at two results after looking at the data from different countries and the health infrastructure there.
1. In countries where BCG vaccination is available, there are fewer cases of death due to corona. Where BCG vaccination started early, there are even fewer cases of deaths from Corona. For example, Brazil started the vaccination of BCG in 1920 and Japan in 1947. Here the risk of spreading corona is 10 times less. At the same time, the BCG vaccination in Iran began in 1984. It is believed that people up to 36 years of age have been vaccinated in Iran, but the elderly are not vaccinated. Because of this, they have a high risk of coronavirus.
2. In countries where there is no BCG vaccination, there are more cases of infections and deaths. Such countries include the United States, Italy, Lebanon, Belgium, and the Netherlands, where the risk of corona outbreak is 4 times higher.
Should we assume that the BCG vaccine protects against corona?
It is too early to assume. Scientists in the study said that BCG may provide long-term protection against coronavirus. But for this, trials have to be done. After this study came out, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, and the UK have said that they will start human trials by applying the BCG vaccine to health workers taking care of coronavirus patients. They will see whether this vaccine strengthens the immune system of health workers. Australia also said, last Friday that it will start a trial of the BCG vaccine on about 4 thousand doctors and nurses and the elderly in the country.
A piece of Good news for India because of two reasons:
First– BCG vaccine has been in the country for 72 years.
There is no mention of India in the New York Institute of Technology study. But if you read this study in the context of India, then it can be believed that the BCG vaccine can also help in protecting people of India from coronavirus. The BCG vaccine was first introduced in India as a pilot project in 1948. The very next year, in 1949, it was started in schools across the country. From 1951 onwards it started to be on a large scale. When the National TB Program started in 1962, children were vaccinated soon after birth across the country. According to this, it can be assumed that a large population in India has got a BCG vaccination. Currently, 97% of children born in the country are vaccinated.
Dr. K Srinath Reddy of the Public Health Foundation, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Tongra, Advisor to India at WHO and Dr. MC Mishra, former Director of AIIMS, also believes that India is in a better position. The opinion of the three says that most people in India are vaccinated with the BCG in childhood to prevent TB. It not only protects against TB but is also beneficial in respiratory diseases. Coronaviruses also flow from the windpipe to the lungs.
Second– Corona’s strains are less dangerous in the country:
Scientists estimated that coronavirus spread in India will not prove to be more deadly than China, America, Italy. There is a difference in the strain of viruses in all these places. Strain means the genetic variant or microorganism of any virus. Indian scientists have prepared the genome sequencing by examining 12 samples of the corona. According to preliminary reports, the virus found in India is a single spike, while the viruses found in Italy, China and the US have triple spikes. That is, the virus spread in India is not able to catch human cells very strongly. At the same time, the triple spike virus strongly binds the cells of the human body. However, this is a very early study and it cannot be fully believed that India will survive this virus or not.
Two challenges India has to face:
First, there is a large population in the country that is malnourished or has less ability to fight diseases. There is a large section of the population who has diabetes, hypertension, kidney problems. The risk of corona in front of such a population is high.
The second challenge before the country is to protect the elderly population from COVID-19. There is a high risk of infection and, social distancing is very important for them. The population of people above 60 years of age in the country is around 100 million. These are the people who were born before the National TB Program started in 1962.
Note: We do not have to be careless about these studies. It is necessary to keep 100 percent implementation of all the precautions given by the government so that you do not fall prey to any danger.