Tamil Nadu gives BCG vaccine to COVID-19 patients above 60 years

The government has given permission to the ICMR to test BCG vaccine’s efficacy in preventing people in the age group of 60 to 95 getting infected by Coronavirus, Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said.

The tests starts at the National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis that comes under the ICMR, Vijaybaskar said, adding that administering BCG vaccine to elders will reduce the virility of Covid-19 and help avoid hospitalization and death.

As ordered by Chief Minister E Palaniswami, the BCG vaccine shall be administered on a trial basis, on adults aged 60-95, with the aim of reducing the COVID mortality rate in this age group, Vijayabaskar said.

The National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) will start the pilot programme soon, he said.

According to a Tamil Nadu government release, the BCG vaccine helps improve innate immunity and there is a possibility that it could also reduce COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates in the elderly aged 60 to 95 years.

BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin), a vaccine against tuberculosis, is being administered to infants as part of the National Immunisation Schedule for 50 years in India. It is known that the vaccine improves innate immunity. It is learned that there is a possibility that the vaccine could reduce the morbidity and mortality rates due to COVID-19 in the elderly (aged 60 to 95 years), the Minister said in a press release.

In this light, the State government, after considering the fact that there were no appropriate drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, had sought a nod from the ICMR to study the efficacy of the BCG vaccine in the elderly. The ICMR has granted approval for the trial, and it would start soon at NIRT, an ICMR institute.