THE BCG vaccine is being tested by scientists looking for a vaccine for coronavirus.
Developed in 1921, they were given to kids in order to prevent tuberculosis – but can they protect against coronavirus?
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What is BCG vaccine?
BCG vaccine – or Bacillus Calmette-Guerin to give its full name – is a jab given to prevent people from catching tuberculosis (TB).
It is often given to children between the ages of 10 and 14, but babies and those under the age of 35 can also receive one if they are most at risk.
For young children, it is recommended they receive the injection if they are in areas where the risk of TB is higher, or if they have a parent or grandparent born in a country where the rate is considered high.
Evidence has shown that the BCG vaccine does not work for those over 35.
Meanwhile, there are a number of reasons why you should not have the jab, including if you have had it before, already contracted TB in the past and if you are pregnant – for a full list, check the NHS website.
Does the vaccine protect against Covid?
Although the vaccine was primarily developed to fight tuberculosis, scientists have discovered that it is able to help the body fend off other illnesses.
The latest trial of the vaccine by the University of Exeter will see around 1,000 people taking part as the world scrambles to find a vaccine for the deadly virus which has killed over 1 million people worldwide.
BCG alters the immune system to increase is capability of fighting other infections.
This has given experts fresh hope that they can protect humans against the bug.
Although millions of people received the jabs at some pointy in the UK, they would to be vaccinated again if it turns out they can provide protection.
According to the NHS, however, the vaccine is rarely given to anyone beyond the age of 16 because "it does not work very well in adults".
Professor John Campbell of the University of Exeter said: "This could be of major importance globally.
"Whilst we don't think it [the protection] will be specific to Covid, it has the potential to buy several years of time for the Covid vaccines to come through and perhaps other treatments to be developed."
Health and care workers are the major people being targeted for the vaccine as they are mostly at risk of the virus, according to the BBC.
How long does the vaccine last?
The vaccine can last up to 15 years.
Scientists are hoping the long lasting effect of the vaccine can provide a breakthrough in their search for a vaccine in the long term.
In 2005, the UK scrapped the vaccination as a result of the low rates of infection of tuberculosis.
In other parts of the world where infection is still prevalent, the vaccine continues to be given.
Is there any link between the BCG vaccine and coronavirus?
Although is no official link between BCG vaccines and coronavirs, scientists are keen to find out whether it can help protect humans against the virus until a vaccine is produced.
"If it does, we could save lives by administering or topping up this readily available and cost-effective vaccination," said Professor Campbell.
They are interested as research has shown that the vaccine is able to build up the immune system so it can fight off other viruses.
Up to 10,000 people in the UK are expected to take part in the trial.
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