April 17, 2020, Kathmandu
The Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine was suggested by many against COVID-19. But the World Health Organization (WHO) says there is no evidence that the BCG vaccine protects people against infection with the COVID-19 virus.
The WHO says that two clinical trials addressing this question are underway, and WHO will evaluate the evidence when it is available.
Since there is no concrete evidence, the WHO does not recommend BCG vaccination for the prevention of COVID-19.
“There is experimental evidence from both animal and human studies that the BCG vaccine has non-specific effects on the immune system. These effects have not been well characterized, and their clinical relevance is unknown,” says WHO.
BCG vaccination prevents severe forms of tuberculosis in children, and diversion of local supplies may result in neonates not being vaccinated, increasing disease, and deaths from tuberculosis. WHO continues to recommend neonatal BCG vaccination in countries or settings with a high incidence of tuberculosis.