Tuberculosis vaccine helps COVID-19 patients recover faster? More studies needed, says DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2020 04:36 PM

Tuberculosis vaccine helps COVID-19 patients recover faster? More studies needed, says DOH 1

MANILA — More evidence is needed to prove that the vaccine for tuberculosis helps patients against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Department of Health said on Monday.

“Sa ngayon wala pang sapat na evidence that would say na BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine) would have this good effect for COVID-19,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing

(For now, there is not enough evidence that would say BCG would have this good effect for COVID-19.)

Vergeire said this following reports citing a study that claimed that countries that used the BCG vaccine had lower mortality from COVID-19.

The Virginia Polytechnic Institute study published last month said that the BCG vaccine appears to enhance immunity to respiratory infections. (Reference: https://www.pnas.org/content/117/30/17720)

Another study from Israel published this month also showed that the vaccine can provide extra protection against COVID-19. (Reference: https://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-08/11/c_139280390.htm)

But Vergeire said more studies should be done. 

“Let us wait for adequate evidence, scientific evidence, let us wait for the results of these studies that are being undertaken,” she said.

She also pointed out that studies and articles written about possible COVID-19 treatments and vaccines do not mean that these are already approved for use.

For now though, the vaccine is still being given to children to prevent tuberculosis, she added. 

According to the World Health Organization, about 1 million Filipinos have active tuberculosis disease, the third highest prevalence rate in the world. And while it is a highly curable disease, more than 70 people in the Philippines die of TB every day.