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October 12, 2020updated 19 Oct 2020 2:36pm

UK initiates clinical trial of BCG vaccine against Covid-19

The University of Exeter in the UK has initiated recruitment in BCG vaccination to reduce the impact of Covid-19 in healthcare workers (BRACE) trial of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine as a potential treatment against Covid-19.

The University of Exeter in the UK has initiated recruitment in BCG vaccination to reduce the impact of Covid-19 in healthcare workers (BRACE) trial of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine as a potential treatment against Covid-19.

BCG vaccine, which is commonly used against tuberculosis, stimulates innate immune-system response and has demonstrated protection against infection or ailments caused by other respiratory pathogens.

The BRACE trial, which will enrol over 10, 000 healthcare workers globally, has secured over $10m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its expansion worldwide.

In the UK, the trial is carried out as a collaboration between Exeter Medical School’s Clinical Trials Unit and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, Australia.

Apart from the UK, it will be carried out in Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Brazil.  Participants will be administered either the BCG vaccine or a placebo injection.

In the initial stage, approximately 1,000 care and healthcare workers will be enrolled in the South West of England.

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The main objective of the trial is to analyse whether the vaccine can reduce the severity of Covid-19.

The trial participants will have to submit daily symptom diary through an app, complete regular questionnaires, provide blood samples and will be tested for Covid-19 whenever they develop symptoms.

University of Exeter Medical School professor John Campbell said: “BCG has been shown to boost immunity in a generalised way, which may offer some protection against Covid-19.

“We’re excited to be contributing to the large-scale, international BRACE study where we are seeking to establish whether the BCG vaccine could help protect people who are at risk of Covid-19.”

In May, Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in the US started a trial to assess tuberculosis vaccine, BCG, for its activity against Covid-19.

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