Researchers from the UK have been studying the BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine, which has been widely used to protect against tuberculosis (TB).
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. A person can be infected with the bacterium without it developing into a disease. This is known as latent TB. The risk of the infection developing into the TB disease can sometimes be decreased by the standard BCG vaccine. However, little is known about the vaccine’s role in fighting initial TB infection.
In their study, published in the British Medical Journal, the researchers investigated whether BCG can also protect against the initial TB infection. They analysed a range of research into the effect of BCG on children under the age of 16, completed between 1950 and 2013. These studies were carried out in a range of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.
The researchers found that, upon exposure to the bacteria that causes TB, children who had been vaccinated with the BCG vaccine had a 19% chance of being protected against infection, compared with children who weren’t vaccinated. In addition, the vaccine seemed to be more effective in European countries than those in Asia and Africa.
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