Question & Answer

Does the BCG (tuberculosis) Vaccine prevent infection or lessen the symptoms of COVID-19?

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  • The BCG vaccine is used to protect against tuberculosis (TB), and has been used medically since 1921.
  • A small number of independent studies have looked at the links between BCG vaccine rates and COVID-19 infections globally. These studies say that there are fewer cases of COVID-19 in countries where people receive the BCG vaccine. However, differences between countries such as the stage of the pandemic in each country, differences in testing rates for COVID-19, differences in demographics and economic and health service differences could influence these reported infection rates (World Health Organization 2020).
  • Two ongoing randomised controlled trials in Australia and the Netherlands are looking at the effects of BCG vaccination in frontline health-care workers who are caring for patients with COVID-19. When the results of these trials are available, the World Health Organization will evaluate the evidence they present.
  • In the absence of evidence, neither the WHO nor the HSE recommends the BCG vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19. To protect yourself and others from coronavirus, please continue to follow public health advice to maintain social distancing and wash your hands properly and often.

Things to Remember

Reviewers

  • Lead Researcher: Dr Eimear Morrissey, School of Medicine and School of Psychology, NUI Galway.
  • Reviewed by: Elaine Finucane, HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network, School of nursing and Midwifery, NUI Galway.
  • Evidence Advisor: Professor Liam Glynn, Graduate Entry Medical, University of Limerick.
  • Evidence Advisor: Anne Daly, PPI Ignite, NUI Galway.
  • Journalist Advisor: Dr Claire O’Connell, Contributor, The Irish Times.