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An ecological study to evaluate the association of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination on cases of SARS-CoV2 infection and mortality from COVID-19

Izzo, Angelo A., Chimoyi, Lucy, Velen, Kavindhran, Churchyard, Gavin J., Wallis, Robert, Lewis, James J. ORCID: and Charalambous, Salome 2020. An ecological study to evaluate the association of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination on cases of SARS-CoV2 infection and mortality from COVID-19. PLoS ONE 15 (12) , e0243707. 10.1371/journal.pone.0243707

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As the SARS-CoV2 pandemic has progressed, there have been marked geographical differences in the pace and extent of its spread. We evaluated the association of BCG vaccination on morbidity and mortality of SARS-CoV2, adjusted for country-specific responses to the epidemic, demographics and health. SARS-CoV2 cases and deaths as reported by 31 May 2020 in the World Health Organization situation reports were used. Countries with at least 28 days following the first 100 cases, and available information on BCG were included. We used log-linear regression models to explore associations of cases and deaths with the BCG vaccination policy in each country, adjusted for population size, gross domestic product, proportion aged over 65 years, stringency level measures, testing levels, smoking proportion, and the time difference from date of reporting the 100th case to 31 May 2020. We further looked at the association that might have been found if the analyses were done at earlier time points. The study included 97 countries with 73 having a policy of current BCG vaccination, 13 having previously had BCG vaccination, and 11 having never had BCG vaccination. In a log-linear regression model there was no effect of country-level BCG status on SARS-CoV2 cases or deaths. Univariable log-linear regression models showed a trend towards a weakening of the association over time. We found no statistical evidence for an association between BCG vaccination policy and either SARS-CoV2 morbidity or mortality. We urge countries to rather consider alternative tools with evidence supporting their effectiveness for controlling SARS-CoV2 morbidity and mortality.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Additional Information: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 January 2021
Date of Acceptance: 29 November 2020
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 09:54

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