UK study tests if BCG vaccine protects against COVID

The widely used BCG tuberculosis vaccine will be tested on frontline care workers in Britain for its effectiveness against COVID-19. (File/AFP)
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Updated 11 October 2020

UK study tests if BCG vaccine protects against COVID

  • The UK study is part of an existing Australian-led trial, which launched in April and also has arms in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil
  • The BCG vaccine is also being tested as a protection against COVID-19 in South Africa

LONDON: The widely used BCG tuberculosis vaccine will be tested on frontline care workers in Britain for its effectiveness against COVID-19, researchers running the UK arm of a global trial said.
Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, used to protect against tuberculosis, induces a broad innate immune-system response and has been shown to protect against infection or severe illness with other respiratory pathogens.
“BCG has been shown to boost immunity in a generalized way, which may offer some protection against COVID-19,” Professor John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said.
“We are seeking to establish whether the BCG vaccine could help protect people who are at risk of COVID-19. If it does, we could save lives by administering or topping up this readily available and cost-effective vaccination.”
The UK study is part of an existing Australian-led trial, which launched in April and also has arms in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil. The BCG vaccine is also being tested as a protection against COVID-19 in South Africa.
The British trial is recruiting volunteers ahead of winter months that officials have warned may be tough as the country grapples with a second wave of infections.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that restrictions to curb the pandemic could be in place until spring.
The trial’s UK arm, which is being run from Exeter, southwest England, is seeking to recruit 1,000 people who work in care homes and community health care nearby.
Globally, more than 10,000 health care staff will be recruited.


Russia proposes new missile verification regime with US after demise of treaty

Updated 27 min 18 sec ago

Russia proposes new missile verification regime with US after demise of treaty

  • The United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Monday proposed that Russia and the United States agree not to deploy certain land-based missiles in Europe and introduce mutual verification measures to build trust following the demise of the INF nuclear arms control treaty.
The United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, accusing Moscow of violating it, a charge denied by the Kremlin.
Global nuclear arms control architecture has come under further strain since then as the former Cold War foes have been unable to agree on a replacement to New START, another major arms control pact that is due to expire in February 2021.
On Monday, the Kremlin suggested “de-escalation” measures, such as allowing Russia to conduct checks on the US Aegis Ashore system in Europe, and the United States to check Russia’s 9M729 missiles in facilities in the exclave of Kaliningrad.
“We propose all interested sides to consider concrete options for mutual verification measures to remove existing concerns,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.
The INF pact had prohibited land-based missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles, reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.