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Researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia are set to conduct a randomised, multi-centre clinical trial to test the use of tuberculosis vaccine BCG against Covid-19.
The BRACE trial is intended for healthcare workers. It is based on previous study findings that BCG decreases the level of virus in patients infected by viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2.
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute director Kathryn North said: “This trial will allow the vaccine’s effectiveness against Covid-19 symptoms to be properly tested, and may help save the lives of our heroic frontline healthcare workers.”
The controlled trial is expected to enrol approximately 4,000 healthcare workers at hospitals across Australia, including the Melbourne Campus’ Royal Children’s Hospital.
BCG will be assessed for its ability to mitigate the prevalence and severity of Covid-19 symptoms.
More than 130 million babies currently receive the BCG vaccination for tuberculosis each year. The vaccine is said to enhance ‘frontline’ immunity.
The improved immunity is expected to provide the time required to develop and validate a specific vaccine for Covid-19 infection.
The BRACE study is based on an existing trial at the institute, which led to human ethics approvals. The existing trial is being conducted at sites across Australia.
North added: “Using rapidly sourced and immediately deployable funds, we will be relentless in our pursuit of preventions and treatments for this unprecedented pandemic.
“These trials will allow the rapid advancement of the most promising candidates to clinical practice, giving us the most number of shots on goal against Covid-19 as possible.”
Trials of potential vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are already underway in the US and China.