Tuberculosis and polio vaccines are being tested to see if they could possibly protect patients from COVID-19, scientists told The Washington Post.
“This is the only vaccine in the world that can be given to combat COVID-19 right now,” Jeffrey D. Cirillo, a professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology at Texas A&M Health Science Center, told the Post.
The scientists said they are not suggesting the vaccines will prevent people from contracting COVID-19, but it may help them experience less severe symptoms if they do contract it.
The researchers looked at countries like Pakistan, where most of the population is vaccinated for tuberculosis and death rates for COVID-19 have been extremely low.
“It’s not like they’re not getting the infection,” Azra Raza, a professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, told the Post. “The rate [of positive infections] is high. But they’re just not dying. It is raging through, but they’re not dying of it.”
Cirillo noted that the tuberculosis vaccine is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so if it is effective it would be easier to distribute.
Their research comes as dozens of biotechnology companies across the world race to create a coronavirus vaccine, which U.S. health officials have said won’t be available until late this year at the earliest.