On the relationship between BCG coverage and national Covid-19 outcome: could "heterologous" herd immunity explain why some countries are better off?

Lerm M

J Intern Med 288 (6) 682-688 [2020-10-27; online 2020-10-27]

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected most parts of the global society since its emergence and the scientific community has been challenged with challenging questions urgently demanding answers. One of the early hypotheses on Covid-19 outcome was that some protection could be offered by the tuberculosis vaccine (BCG) and several clinical studies were initiated along with the emergence of numerous observational studies on the relationship between BCG and Covid-19 severity. In the present work, I demonstrate a strong correlation between the number of years that countries implemented BCG vaccination plans and age-standardised mortality rates during the first months of the pandemic in Europe. Further analyses of age groups in two European countries with comparably few confounding factors and easily identifiable groups of BCG-vaccinated and non-vaccinated subgroups suggest a population-level effect of BCG on national outcomes of Covid-19. This phenomenon of "heterologous herd immunity" deserves further investigation, both in epidemiological and experimental studies.

Type: Other

PubMed 33107999

DOI 10.1111/joim.13198

Crossref 10.1111/joim.13198

Publications 9.5.0