Covid-19: University hospitals testing nasal fluid antibodies, efficiency of TB vaccine
Radboud University Medical Center and University Medical Center Utrecht are working together on two coronavirus-related studies. Firstly they're investigating whether Covid-19 antibodies can be found in nasal fluid if the infection was too mild for these to show up in the blood. And secondly they are testing whether the tuberculosis vaccine affects the course of the coronavirus in older people, NOS reports.
Worldwide, blood tests are being done en masse to study the "herd immunity" against the coronavirus. But last week, Jaap van Dissel of health institute RIVM told parliament that people who had only mild symptoms don't have much antibodies in their blood. After viral infections in the respiratory tract, antibodies can sometimes be detected in the nasal fluid, but not in the blood. The hospitals want to see if this is also the case with the coronavirus.
This study involves 50 families, of which one person had tested positive for Covid-19. The participants will have to collect and send in nasal fluid multiple times over the course of a month, and keep a diary recording their symptoms. The hospitals will first look for antibodies, and then examine whether the antibodies, if they are present, can block the multiplication of the virus.
The first results of this study are expected in month or two.
The second study involves the tuberculosis vaccine and what effect it has on the coronavirus among people aged 60 and older. Previous research found that BCG tuberculosis vaccine boosts the immune system and leads to greater protection against the flu. The researchers want to find out if this also applies to the coronavirus. Half of the total 1,600 participants will be given the vaccine, the other half a placebo. The study should show whether the vaccine makes a difference in the number of infections and the severity of symptoms.
The hospitals are looking for people who want to participate in this study. If you are interested and 60 years old or older, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for the Nijmegen region, or CoronaBCG60@umcutrecht.nl for the Utrecht region.
In March, the academic hospitals started a similar study among 1,500 hospital employees, The results of that study are not yet known. The researchers also wanted to test this vaccine among older people, as the elderly are more at risk of dying from the coronavirus.