UK study tests if BCG vaccine protects against COVID

LONDON (Reuters) - The widely used BCG tuberculosis vaccine is being tested on frontline nurses for its effectiveness against COVID-19 in the UK, said researchers leading the UK arm of a global study.
The vaccine against Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), which is used to protect against tuberculosis, induces a broad response of the innate immune system and has been shown to protect against infections or serious illnesses with other pathogens of the respiratory tract.
"BCG has been shown to boost immunity in general ways, which may offer some protection against COVID-19," said Professor John Campbell of the University of Exeter Medical School.
"We want to find out if the BCG vaccine can help protect people at risk of COVID-19. If so, we could save lives by giving or replenishing this readily available and inexpensive vaccine."
The UK trial is part of an existing Australia-led trial that started in April that also has guns in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil. The BCG vaccine is also being tested in South Africa as a protection against COVID-19.
The UK process is recruiting volunteers before the winter months, which officials have warned could be difficult as the country grapples with a second wave of infections.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that restrictions to contain the pandemic could be in place until spring.
The UK arm of the study, operated out of Exeter in south-west England, is trying to recruit 1,000 people to work in nearby nursing homes and healthcare.
More than 10,000 healthcare workers are hired worldwide.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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