I originally wrote this article about the BCG vaccine for coronavirus about three months ago (that’s about 10 years in non-pandemic time measurement). Of course, as things happen with the coronavirus pandemic, ideas keep returning, and I wanted to make sure that this article is up-to-date with the most recent information about whether the BCG vaccine has any usefulness in preventing or improving outcomes of COVID-19.
You probably don’t know much about the BCG vaccine, because it isn’t used much these days. And no, it’s not one of the vaccines on the CDC immunization schedule for either adults or children.
The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine, or BCG vaccine, was initially developed to prevent tuberculosis. The disease is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. Tuberculosis is treatable with advanced medicines, but it takes a long time and can be expensive. Without treatment, the patient will die.
A clinical trial that examined the potential of the bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine, or BCG vaccine, to reverse even advanced type 1 diabetes mellitus was recently published in a Nature journal. In addition, researchers proposed a possible mechanism describing how the BCG vaccine may enhance the immune system and could stop and reverse the damage that leads to diabetes. But does this constitute evidence that this vaccine can really reverse type 1 diabetes? Spoiler alert – I’m not fully convinced, but my interest is piqued.
The BCG vaccine was initially developed to prevent tuberculosis. It is one of the oldest vaccines available on the market, first used in 1921 (pdf). With the successful eradication of tuberculosis in many countries, the vaccine isn’t used very much anymore, except in countries with endemic tuberculosis.
Initial results from a clinical trial that is testing the ability of the bacillus Calmette-Guerin, or BCG vaccine, to reverse even advanced type 1 diabetes mellitus. In addition, researchers seem to have identified how the vaccine enhances the immune system, stopping and reversing the damage that leads to diabetes.
The BCG vaccine was developed to prevent tuberculosis. It is one of the oldest vaccines available on the market, first used in 1921 (pdf). With the successful eradication of tuberculosis in many countries, the vaccine isn’t used very much anymore, except in countries with endemic tuberculosis.
Although the results are very preliminary, the BCG vaccine may very well lead to an effective “cure” for type 1 diabetes. This will be an exciting development for what is now considered to be an incurable disease.
I’ve never been a fan of Microsoft, but I think Bill Gates’ legacy is probably going to be more about his charitable work than Microsoft Windows. And his contribution to the Global Fund, about which there are unsubstantiated rumors (my assumption is that Gates wouldn’t have contributed $1.00 if they were true) regarding their finances, is critical to their strategy of eliminating infectious diseases. Global Fund’s success is documented:
New HIV infections are declining in many of the countries most affected by the epidemic. More and more countries are in a position to target the elimination of malaria from their territories. The world is on course to halve TB mortality by 2015 in comparison with 1990.
Since its inception in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been a major engine driving this remarkable progress.
As opposed to early reports that I’ve discussed previously about the totally drug resistant tuberculosis strain that has appeared in India, the Indian government seems to state otherwise. I’ll wait until a published article appears somewhere.