COVID-19: PGIMS, Rohtak granted approval by DCGI to start clinical trials on BCG vaccine for treatment

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has granted approval to Pandit B.D Sharma Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), Rohtak in Haryana to start clinical trials on tuberculosis vaccine, the recombinant Bacillus Calmette Guerin (rBCG), for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The purpose of Clinical trials is to find out whether rBCG boosts immunity and can decrease the incidence or severity of symptoms in patients infected with COVID-19. The trials at PGIMS will be conducted on more than 18 individuals who have come in contact with novel coronsvirus patients and include health care workers. They will be administered BCG vaccine and will be observed for next 180 days to check its efficacy.

The BCG vaccine was introduced in the 1920s to fight Tuberculosis is administered to newborn infants in the country but clinical studies suggests vaccine’s ability to induce potent protection against other infectious diseases. The BCG vaccine contains a live but weakened strain of TB bacteria that provokes the body to develop antibodies to attack the bacteria.

Dr Savita Verma, Principal investigator for clinical trials and professor of pharmacology at the PGIMS, Rohtak informed that “regulatory approvals from the ethics committee of the PGIMS have also been received to start the clinical trials. Due to the capacity of BCG to reduce the incidence of respiratory tract infections in children, the PGIMS research team hypothesise that this vaccination may induce some protection against the susceptibility to or severity of COVID-19.”

Dr Verma further added that, “consent would be taken from COVID-19 patients attendants to be involved in the study. Thereafter, their samples would be collected. Clinical trials study new tests, treatments and evaluate their effects on human health outcomes. The trials are carefully designed, reviewed and completed, and need to be approved before they can start.”

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