'BCG vaccine protects against respiratory infections'

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The BCG vaccine, which is frequently given to children to prevent tuberculosis, is safe to give to the elderly, and can protect them against various infections, according to a study which says it may have a broad, stimulating effect on the human immune system. However the study, published in the journal Cell, cautioned that it is unclear whether the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 in the older sections of the population.

The scientists, including those from Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, showed that elderly people benefit from the vaccine by an effect called “trained immunity.” In the research, they assessed 198 elderly people who were given either a placebo or the BCG vaccine upon discharge from the hospital. “Two years ago we started the ACTIVATE study, with the aim of showing whether BCG vaccination could protect against infections in vulnerable elderly people,” said study co-author Mihai Netea from Radboud University Medical Center.