Rohtak PGI to explore TB vaccine’s efficacy to tackle Covid
Professor of pharmacology at the institute, Savita Verma who is the primary investigator for clinical trials said that the drug controller general of India (DCGI) has granted them the permission to hold a clinical trial for the rBCGUpdated: Apr 27, 2020 21:55 IST
Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), Rohtak in Haryana will shortly start clinical trials to research the efficacy of a tuberculosis vaccine, the recombinant Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), to potentially protect people from the novel coronavirus.
The development is significant in present times when the need to have an antidote to tackle the fast spread of respiratory illness is being looked for. The BCG vaccine protects against tuberculosis and is administered to newborn infants in the country.
Professor of pharmacology at the institute, Savita Verma who is the primary investigator for clinical trials said that the drug controller general of India (DCGI) has granted them the permission to hold a clinical trial for the rBCG. “We have also obtained regulatory permissions from the ethics committee of the PGIMS,’’ she said.
Head of the pulmonary and critical care medicine at PGIMS Professor Dhruva Chaudhary who is also a part of the clinical trial team said the trials are aimed to find out whether rBCG boosts immunity and can decrease the incidence or severity of symptoms in patients infected with the coronavirus.
Professor Chaudhary who is also the nodal officer for Covid-19 at PGIMS said that BCG was developed as a vaccine against tuberculosis, but studies have shown its ability to induce potent protection against other infectious diseases.
“A favorable effect has been observed in studies on BCG for distinct viral pathogens like the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common respiratory virus which causes mild, cold-like symptoms,” Prof Chaudhary said.
Prof Verma said rBCG is a live vaccine against tuberculosis and is based on the well known BCG strain used since 1921 and administered approximately four billion times worldwide. “As BCG is not sufficiently effective to stop the spread of tuberculosis, two modifications have been implemented in rBCG to improve its immunogenicity. Thus it is believed to be an appropriate means for improving the induction of immunity,’’ she said.
The PGIMS research team said due to the capacity of BCG to reduce the incidence of respiratory tract infections in children, they hypothesise that this vaccination may induce some protection against the susceptibility to or severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
What are clinical trials
The World Health Organization (WHO) says clinical trials are a type of research that studies new tests and treatments and evaluates their effects on human health outcomes
People volunteer to take part in clinical trials to test medical interventions including drugs, cells and other biological products
The trials are carefully designed, reviewed and completed, and need to be approved before they can start
rBCG trials at PGIMS will be done on above 18 individuals who have come in contact with Covid-19 patients and include health care workers
Informed consent will be taken by the institute from every person involved in the trial