Ban on TB drugs sale after reports of TB vaccine trial for COVID-19

By: News Desk      Published: 04:36 PM, 5 Apr, 2020
Ban on TB drugs sale after reports of TB vaccine trial for COVID-19

Drug Controller Punjab has banned sale of drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB), without the prescription of a qualified doctor as news emerged that a century old vaccine to prevent TB may be used against coronavirus.

Researchers and public health experts are testing for older vaccines and antiviral drugs that might be used to treat the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The prime examples are malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) this weekend, despite criticism of the lack of evidence they work.

Soon after the news of malaria drug surfaced, both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been vanished from the medical stores. Now these medicine are only available at government level direct to hospitals in order to stop the abusive usage of these drugs through self-medication that even put one’s life into danger.

Now, researchers in Australia are evaluating an older treatment, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a vaccine once used to prevent tuberculosis (TB), which has been used for about 100 years. Researchers have been investigating this vaccine as a possible treatment for bladder cancer. In light of the way the BCG vaccine primes the immune system, BCG is being evaluated for COVID-19 treatment, which has at least a couple similarities to TB—they’re both lung infections caused by microorganisms.

Nigel Curtis, head of infectious diseases research at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, is running a study into BCG and COVID-19, which the World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging other researchers to collaborate with.

"Although originally developed against tuberculosis and still given to over 130 million babies annually for that purpose, BCG also boosts humans' 'frontline' immunity, training it to respond to germs with greater intensity. It can boost the immune system so that it defends better against a whole range of different infections, a whole range of different viruses and bacteria in a lot more generalized way.”

BCG is used to immunize about 130 million newborns around the globe each year. Research in babies in Africa demonstrated that BCG offers protections against TB and other pediatric infections.

Almost 4,000 healthcare workers will be vaccinated with BCG with the seasonal influenza vaccine or the influenza vaccine alone, in this study which will run six months. A placebo vaccine isn’t being used because the BCG shot usually causes a localized skin reaction that leaves a scar.

Similar studies are ongoing in The Netherlands and Curtis indicated he is in talks with possible trial sites in Boston and in other Australian cities.

A microbiologist in Germany also believed that the use of an updated version of a 100-year-old Tuberculosis vaccine may work as an intermediate treatment for Covid-19.

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