BCG Vaccine Boosts Immunity In Elders: ICMR Study

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New Delhi: An Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study has found that BCG vaccination prompts “enhanced innate and adaptive immunity in elderly individuals”, which may prove beneficial against the coronavirus.

“Although our study did not examine the functional effects of these changes in the immune system, our data nevertheless reveal an important role for BCG vaccination in boosting immune responses in the elderly population,” wrote the authors of the study that has just been released on pre-print server and is yet to be peer-reviewed, reports The New Indian Express.

The researchers at ICMR’s National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis, Chennai, discovered that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) — a vaccine that is administered to babies at birth in India — amplified total antibody levels in elderlies and also strengthened various immunity cells.

However, it is yet to be ascertained whether this protective immunity will be helpful in non-specific infections like SARS CoV2.

The researchers conducted the study by vaccinating 54 individuals, while 32 were left unvaccinated. People aged between 60 and 80 years were studied from July through September.

A month later, the vaccinated volunteers showed positive impact on immunity cells, including B cells and T cells and on total antibody levels. “BCG vaccination was associated with enhanced innate and adaptive memory cell subsets, as well as total antibody levels in elderly individuals, suggesting its potential utility in SARS-Cov2 infection by enhancing heterologous immunity,” the researchers said.

“The researchers, after analyzing the effect on BCG vaccine in elderlies have shown that it strengthens both T cell and B cell responses which is very good news and may have repercussions for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing,” senior immunologist Dr Seyed Hasnain said.

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