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Team including Bengali scientists to launch ‘Modified’ BCG vaccine to fight COVID-19

9 April, 2020 02:18:19
Team including Bengali scientists to launch ‘Modified’ BCG vaccine to fight COVID-19

With the COVID-19 scare invading the world, every scientist in every country is trying to rein in this virus that is causing a worldwide pandemic. In an attempt to try out a modified form of the time-tested BCG vaccine widely used in mass immunization in India to protect against Tuberculosis, a group of Bengali scientists along with their colleagues in different laboratories of India are working hard to develop a new vaccine. As well-known immunologist and JNU professor Govardhan Das in a recent media interview pointed out: “We are a group of scientists who have sent a proposal to the Principal Scientific Advisor of the Government of India to allow us to try a vaccine that will be a modified BCG vaccine with incorporated COVID-19 proteins.” In the team are well known Bengali immunologists Dr Dipendra Mitra of AIIMS and Dr Tapan Mazumdar from Agartala. 

All these scientists have started experimenting in their laboratories and promise to be ready with a vaccine in 3-4 months time that can go for human trial after that. As they point out BCG vaccine does have an edge over COVID-19 treatment as all across the globe from statistics one can prove that countries where mass immunization was done with BCG are fairing much better than those that were not. Dr Das gave a simple example of Spain and Portugal, two neighbouring countries. Though Spain that has no history of BCG fared very badly with more than 11,000 deaths, Portugal came up with a much better result of just 6000 plus cases in the first few weeks.

Similarly, countries like USA, Italy and UK where BCG vaccine is not given again showed a very steep disease graph along with several thousands of deaths. Well known global science journals including Plus Pathogen, Cell and Nature have come up with encouraging reports where countries like USA, Germany, Australia and Netherlands have already started giving BCG vaccine to their health workers to fight COVID -19.

BCG vaccination in India started in 1948, just after independence and the population at large has tolerated the vaccine well, with no side effects. So now if COVID-19 proteins are introduced in this vaccine then the body’s already heightened immune response will get a further boost against this particular virus. BCG has already been proved to be extremely effective against Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Meningitis. We can only hope that this works and as Dr Das puts in: “I would even wish to see a re-vaccination programme of BCG among high risk population and health workers in India starting immediately.” 

Story Tag:
  • Corona Virus

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