Coronavirus Update: Trial finds 100-year old tuberculosis vaccine offers protection against COVID to high-risk patients and may help with other infectious diseases


Data from a trial seeking to determine whether multiple injections of a tuberculosis vaccine developed in the 1900s could protect high-risk diabetes patients from COVID produced some positive results, according to a study in Cell Medicine Reports.

The trial tracked COVID infections among a group of 144 participants all of whom had Type 1 diabetes, with two-thirds receiving at least 3 doses of BCG, or Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin, shots, which protect people by bolstering the immune system, according to the study, as the New York Times reported. 

The results found just 1% of the 96 people who got the BCG shots developed COVID, while 12% of the placebo recipients got the virus.

“The BCG group also displays fewer infectious disease symptoms and lesser severity, and fewer infectious disease events per patient, including COVID-19,” the authors wrote. “There were no BCG-related systemic adverse events. BCG’s broad-based infection protection suggests that it may provide platform protection against new SARS-CoV-2 variants and other pathogens.”

The BCG shots are still given to infants in parts of the world that still have TB cases.

See now: CDC: You should get two negative tests or wear a mask for up to 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19

The move comes as U.S. known cases of COVID are continuing to ease, although the true tally is likely higher given how many people are testing at home, where the data are not being collected.

The daily average for new cases stood at 100,747 on Tuesday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 18% from two weeks ago. Cases are falling in almost every state and are down 20% or more in more than a dozen states, namely Rhode Island, Florida, Nebraska, Connecticut, New York, New Mexico, California, Colorado, New Jersey, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Arizona, Wyoming, Hawaii, Alabama, Utah, Oregon and Illinois.

The daily average for hospitalizations was down 45 at 41,668, while the daily average for deaths is up 4% to 467.

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• A record number of people aged 50 and older in the U.K. has left their jobs earlier than expected, the Guardian reported, citing data from the Office for National Statistics. The ONS found some 77% of adults in that age group said they quit early, with many citing the pandemic as playing a role in the decision.

• A California church that defied safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic by holding large religious services won’t have to pay about $200,000 in fines, a state appeals court ruled, the Associated Press reported. Calvary Chapel San Jose and its pastors were held in contempt of court and fined in 2020 and 2021 for violating state and county limits on indoor public gatherings.

As China’s economy stalls, protests have broken out over frozen bank accounts and mortgage payments for unfinished homes. WSJ explains the reasons behind the simmering discontent and how Beijing authorities are trying to keep a lid on it. Photo Composite: WSJ

• The Little League World Series is back after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, the AP reported separately. The youth baseball tournament has expanded to 20 teams from around the world that will play ball in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, starting Wednesday. This year’s series marks the 75th anniversary of the first tournament, which has become a staple of life in central Pennsylvania.

• Chaos unfolded at an Ikea store in Shanghai over the weekend after local authorities attempted to implement a surprise lockdown with shoppers still inside due to potential COVID exposure, the New York Post reported. Videos shared online by writer Fang Shimin and others showed Ikea shoppers scrambling to escape the store on Saturday before authorities could shut the doors. The rush to exit occurred after an announcement at the Ikea store revealed authorities would close the store and not allow anyone to enter or leave.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 592.4 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose above 6.44 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 93.1 million cases and 1,037,971 fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 223.5 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 67.3% of the total population. But just 107.9 million have had a first booster, equal to 48.3% of the vaccinated population.

Just 21 million of the people 50 years old and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 32.7% of those who had a first booster.

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