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Karnataka joins BCG vaccine trials against Covid-19

Express News Service

BENGALURU: There may be a ray of hope in protecting the most vulnerable section of society, the elderly, from the dreaded Sars-CoV-2 virus which is responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic. Following the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) thumbs up that the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine was effective in shielding the elderly against Covid, medical institutes in Bengaluru and Mysuru are undertaking studies to test its efficacy.

Trials of the BCG vaccine will be conducted at Raja Rajeshwari Medical College and Hospital (RRMCH) and Narayana Health, in Bengaluru, and Mysore Medical College & Research Institute (MMCRI) and JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research (where the trials are already on) in Mysuru.

The BCG vaccine is typically used against Tuberculosis (TB) and mandatorily given to children in India. Apart from preventing TB, it also prevents many respiratory illnesses. The BCG vaccines were administered in India as early as 1948, and, on Thursday, an ICMR study concluded that it was effective in the elderly against Covid-19.

As part of the trials, which have already been approved by ICMR, the volunteers — all elderly citizens aged 60-80 years and free from Covid-19 and TB — will be administered a booster dose of BCG vaccine at RRMCH. Over the next nine months, the participants will be monitored for presence of antibodies in their blood and how they respond.

JSS Academy in second phase of vaccine trials

“We will observe if the vaccine results in immuno-protective action against Covid-19, by developing antibodies and T-Cell immunity against the coronavirus,” said Dr Vivek G, Assistant Professor, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, RRMCH, which is conducting the study on 150 volunteers.

The JSS Academy started the trials on September 23 and is in the second phase of the study. So far, the institute has screened 150 participants of which 80 have been vaccinated.

Twenty one participants are included in the immunology cohort. Another 27 participants are yet to be vaccinated in another two days. Dr Alben Sigamani, head of research at Narayana Health, said they screened 30 out of 300 people so far. “It is a two-stage process.

We first screen them for history of Covid-19 or exposure to patients, with RT-PCR and antibody tests. The second stage is to screen them for latent TB with chest X-ray and antigen test. Those who do not consent to be vaccinated will form the control arm of the study. one person has been vaccinated so far and six more are in the line. They will be followed up for six months,” Dr Sigamani said.

MODERNA VACCINE  SET FOR LAUNCH
Amid the pandemic, Moderna Inc is getting ready to launch its mRNA-1273 anti-Covid-19 vaccine, according to its CEO Stephane Bancel. The company has signed several supply agreements globally with various governments. 

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