South West Healthcare staff to be recruited in new vaccine trial

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A large global trial to test the theory that the BCG vaccine could help protect against Covid-19 will soon recruit healthcare staff and care home workers in the West Country.

The University of Exeter is leading the UK arm of the trial, called the 'BCG vaccination to Reduce the impact of COVID-19 in healthcare workers'.

The trial has received more than $10M from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Credit: ITV West Country

It has received more than $10 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.The UK joins centres in Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Brazil, recruiting more than 10,000 healthcare staff to take part.

Participants will either get the BCG vaccine or a placebo injection. Credit: ITV West Country

Participants will be given either the BCG vaccine, currently given to more than 100 million babies every year to protect against tuberculosis, or a placebo injection. 

In the UK, routine BCG vaccination was stopped in 2005 because of low rates of TB in the general population.

Professor John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, is the UK lead on the BRACE study. 

He said: “COVID-19 has killed more than a million people globally, with well over 33 million people acquiring the disease, sometimes in its severest forms. BCG has been shown to boost immunity in a generalised way, which may offer some protection against COVID-19.

"We're excited to be contributing to the large-scale, international BRACE study where we are seeking to 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 readily available and cost-effective vaccination."