North Devon clinic tests if tuberculosis jab prevents effects of Covid-19
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A trial to see if a tuberculosis jab reduces the effects of Covid-19 is being extended to North Devon.
The University of Exeter is leading the UK arm of a trial which tests the theory that the widely-used BCG vaccine can protect against coronavirus.
The trial has opened in North Devon at the Barnstaple Travel Clinic in Boutport Street and local health and care staff are being asked to sign up and take part.
Trial lead Professor John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “People who provide health and social care are at particularly high risk of Covid-19. BCG has been shown to boost immunity in a generalised way, which may offer some protection against Covid-19.
“Even if you’ve had the vaccine previously, you can still sign up. BRACE* trial participants will still be able to receive any of the new Covid vaccines for which they are eligible.
“We’re inviting people to join our large-scale, international BRACE study, and help us establish whether the BCG vaccine could help protect people who are at risk of COVID-19. If it does, we could save lives by administering or topping up this safe, readily available, and cost-effective vaccination.”
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The BRACE trial is now recruiting health and social care staff, including care home staff in North Devon, who can attend clinics in Barnstaple or Exeter.
The trial is targeting these professionals because they work in fields with high exposure to Covid-19.
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The trial is specifically looking at whether the BCG vaccine reduces coronavirus infection or Covid-19 symptom severity.
Professor Campbell added: “Up until now, health and social care workers have been overlooked by much research.
“The BRACE trial provides us with a great opportunity to offer potential help to these important groups of individuals who are providing healthcare to some of our most vulnerable citizens.
“I’d really encourage health and social care staff to join us, to help us find out if the BCG vaccine might provide a safe, widely available and cost-effective way to reduce the risk of Covid-19.”
The BRACE trial is coordinated by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, Australia. The trial has received more than A$15M from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to allow its global expansion and the Peter Sowerby Foundation has contributed funding to support the Exeter trial site.
The UK joins study centres in Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Brazil in the largest trial of its kind. Together, the trial will recruit more than 10,000 healthcare staff. Participants will be given either the BCG vaccine or a placebo injection.
In the UK, routine BCG vaccination was stopped in 2005 because of low rates of TB in the general population.
For more information and to sign up, visit https://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/research/healthresearch/primarycare/brace .
* (BCG vaccination to Reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Australian healthcare workers following Coronavirus Exposure).