COVID-19 and Beyond: Exploring Public Health Benefits from Non-Specific Effects of BCG Vaccination

Kent J. Koster, Hilary L. Webb, Jeffrey D. Cirillo
2021 Microorganisms  
Bacille Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccination, widely used throughout the world to protect against infant tuberculous meningitis and miliary tuberculosis (TB), can provide broad non-specific protection against infectious respiratory diseases in certain groups. Interest in BCG has seen a resurgence within the scientific community as the mechanisms for non-specific protection have begun to be elucidated. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nearly every aspect of society has profoundly illustrated
more » ... he pressure that respiratory infections can place on a national healthcare system, further renewing interest in BCG vaccination as a public health policy to reduce the burden of those illnesses. However, the United States does not recommend BCG vaccination due to its variable effectiveness against adult TB, the relatively low risk of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in most of the United States, and the vaccine's interference with tuberculin skin test reactivity that complicates TB screening. In this review, we explore the broad immune training effects of BCG vaccination and literature on the effects of BCG vaccination on COVID-19 spread, disease severity, and mortality. We further discuss barriers to scheduled BCG vaccination in the United States and how those barriers could potentially be overcome.
doi:10.3390/microorganisms9102120 pmid:34683441 fatcat:4lo3avyzajcktkbz7hxitjv6wm