On Monday a group of healthcare workers at the Tygerberg Hospital started trials of the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine to test whether it can reduce the symptoms and risk of infection of the coronavirus.
The trials are run by the clinical research organisation, TASK. Its founder, Professor Andreas Diacon, says that there are effects of the BCG vaccine on the immune system that they are still trying to understand. When administered to children, it showed that they struggled less with respiratory illnesses and asthma. TASK believes that when adults are revaccinated, the immune system will cope better with respiratory retract infections.
BCG booster shots were administered to 250 healthcare workers, while another 250 received a dummy formula. Diacon says that healthcare workers were chosen for the trial because they are the most exposed. He says that if the Covid-19 symptoms are reduced it may increase the rate of recovery and people might not even need to go to a hospital or become ill at all.
The trials will be expanded to accommodate 3000 healthcare workers and will run for a year.