BCG vaccination early in life does not improve COVID-19 outcome of elderly populations, based on nationally reported data

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Lett Appl Microbiol. 2020 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/lam.13365. Online ahead of print.


The reported numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths were compared for 18 countries (14 in Western Europe, plus Australia, Brazil, Israel and the USA) to assess the effect of historic and current national BCG immunizations. In view of the high death rate for Covid-19 patients over 70 years of age, and given the fact that BCG vaccination is typically given early in life, we compared countries that had introduced BCG in the 1950s with those that had not. No effect on Covid-19 case fatality rate or number of deaths per population could be demonstrated. Since some countries test for Covid-19 more than others, the effect of tests performed per million population on reported deaths per million was also assessed, but again did not demonstrate an effect of BCG vaccination in the 1950s. Whether countries had never used the vaccine, had historically used it but since ceased to do so, or were presently vaccinating with BCG did not correlate to national total number of deaths or case fatality rates. We conclude that there is currently no evidence for a beneficial effect of BCG vaccination on Covid-19 reported cases or fatalities.

PMID:32734625 | DOI:10.1111/lam.13365