Does TB vaccine help fight coronavirus? Experiment starts at two Dutch hospitals
The university hospitals in Nijmegen and Utrecht are giving healthcare workers a tuberculosis (TB) vaccine to see if it better protects them against the coronavirus, the hospitals announced on Wednesday. The TB vaccine boosts the immune system, so the healthcare workers involved may be better protected against Covid-19 and an infection may be milder.
The vaccine will be given to 500 hospital workers, and another 500 will be given a placebo. Both groups will be closely monitored on whether or not the vaccine provides better protection against the coronavirus. If it turns out to work, all healthcare workers in the Netherlands can get the vaccine.
Previous research showed that a boost to the immune system gives more protection against the flu. But whether this also applies to other infections, such as Covid-19, is not clear. "That is precisely the reason for this research," Mihai Netea, professor of experimental internal medicine at Radboud UMC in Nijmegen, said to Nieuwsuur. "If fewer people drop out due to illness in the vaccinated group, it is an encouraging result."
Healthcare workers becoming infected with the coronavirus could have major consequences for the healthcare system. The hospitals hope that the TB vaccine can help keep their staff on their feet.