Thousands participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials
Around 4,000 Australian healthcare workers will be using the 100-year old vaccine BCG to test its effectiveness against the new coronavirus COVID-19 in a new vaccine trial.
They will be joining thousands of other people in the Netherlands and the States among other countries across the globe that has begun using this unorthodox method in a bid to staunch the spread of the rapidly evolving virus.
BCG is a 100-year old vaccine given to millions of children each year for tuberculosis. Researchers believe that the vaccine may be able to combat the coronavirus as it gives the immune system a large boost.
Studies into the coronavirus show that those who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system may be more susceptible to the virus.
Half of the participants will be given the vaccine, and the other half will be given a placebo. The two groups will have their health monitored through an app on their smartphones, according to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne.
Australia approaches flu season
Nigel Curtis, group leader researcher of infectious diseases at the institution, relayed to the media that they expected results from the new COVID-19 vaccine trial in 6 months’ time.
Curtis says that this re-purposing of an old vaccine comes at a crucial time in Australia as the country approaches its southern hemisphere winter, otherwise known as the ‘flu season’, where infection is likely to be higher.
According to Curtis, the trial will test whether a stronger immune system is enough to suppress symptoms-particularly respiratory symptoms- and curb the spread of the coronavirus. The theory is the stronger the immune system, the lesser chances the coronavirus has of multiplying and causing damage, limiting symptoms.
The race to find a vaccine and cure for the novel coronavirus has been accelerated since the virus has been declared a pandemic a mere 3 months after its emergence.
Curtis says that this new trial is novel and exciting and is the first time the BCG vaccine has been used in this way.
According to the World Health Organization, since this morning, Australia has had 2,799 cases and 11 deaths from the coronavirus COVID-19