Could old vaccines for other germs protect against COVID-19?
Scientists are dusting off some decades-old vaccines against other germs to see whether they could provide a little stopgap protection against COVID-19 until a more precise shot arrives.It may sound odd: Vaccines are designed to target specific diseases. But vaccines made using live strains of bacteria or viruses seem to boost the immune system’s first line of defense, a more general way to guard against germs. And history books show that that sometimes translates into at least some cross-protection against other, completely different bugs.Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak There’s no evidence yet that the approach would rev up the immune system enough to matter against the new coronavirus. But given that a brand new vaccine is expected to take 12 to 18 months, some researchers say it’s time to put the approach to a faster test, starting with a tuberculosis vaccine.”This is still a hypothesis,” said Dr. Mihai Netea of Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. But if it works, “it could be a very important tool to bridge this dangerous period until we have on the market a proper, specific vaccine.”The World Health Organization issued a stern warning Monday not to use the TB vaccine against COVID-19,