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Could currently used vaccines protect against COVID-19?

Data published earlier in 2020 suggest that children are at lower risk of experiencing severe symptoms and mortality from COVID-19, as well as suggesting that risk seems to increase with age[1],[2].

I have a hypothesis that could explain this: children are being protected by the childhood vaccination programme.

Looking at China’s vaccination programme, at birth, infants receive two vaccines: the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which protects primarily against tuberculosis, and the hepatitis B vaccine.

BCG usually protects individuals for around 20 years, while the hepatitis B vaccine (which is administered in three doses: at birth, at one month and at six months) gives protection for around 10 years[3]. Perhaps other childhood vaccines, such as the inactivated poliovirus vaccine, offer this protection against the COVID-19.

With the current lack of vaccination against COVID-19, perhaps people aged over 20 years should be vaccinated with the hepatitis B vaccine. This age could be increased to 50 years, if that approach is not cost effective.

Souad Moumene, practice pharmacist, Manchester

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207845

Readers' comments (3)

  • In the UK the BCG vaccine is not currently part of the routine childhood schedule. It is only offered to those who are at higher risk of TB. The difference is most likely down to the general health and better immune response of younger persons.

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  • I'e been thinking for a while about immunostimulants to reduce the likely effects of the virus causing Covid-19.
    The BCG vaccine may do that, and may be an option to start before a tailored vaccine is available

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  • As a non-medical professional, I was intrigued when I heard that children up to 15 y.o. were less likely to be susceptible to covid 19, and wondered about the possibility of protection offered by one/some of the routine childhood vaccines. Then another statistic, that men were more susceptible, made me wonder whether women in pregnancy routinely provided with further vaccines are gaining some further protection.
    Finally in HSJ, a detailed survey of the first deaths of NHS workers found that 53 of the first 64 BAME covid deaths were born outside the UK, and the other 11 were unresolved. Whether these poor souls were from countries with less rigorous vaccination programmes, is unknown.

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