Sanction has been accorded to a trial by the Indian Council of Medical Research's tuberculosis institute here to study the efficacy of BCG vaccine in the elderly in the fight against COVID-19, the government said on Wednesday.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami, in an order, has given the State's approval after ICMR sought Tamil Nadu government's permission to study the efficacy of the BacillusCalmette- Gurin (BCG) vaccine in senior citizens at its National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) at Chetpet here, Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said.
The NIRT said screening individuals aged 60 and above and administering them the BCG vaccine has started senior official said. The objective of the multi-centric study, in which elderly people not affected by coronavirus are vaccinated, is to see whether this immunisation drive reduces mortality rate and helps cut down COVID-19 incidence.
Following the vaccination, those immunised would be followed up and if some of them get infected with coronavirus, it would be assessed if the BCG vaccination stood them in good stead when compared with others of the same age group who were not vaccinated.
Asked on the sample size and the duration of the study, a senior NIRT official told PTI that the sample size is "sufficient and adequate" to meet the trial's goal and the duration is "about six months and it could well get extended further as all the vaccinated people needed to be followed up for outcomes."
Besides Chennai, the BCG-COVID trial, under the auspices of ICMR would be held in five other centres and "they are in the process of starting and it is going to start soon," he said.
The Health Minister hoped that vaccinating the elderly with the time tested BCG would help reduce the intensity of COVID-19, admissions at hospitals and mortality rates
Describing the state's approval by Palaniswamifor a trial here as among measures to protect people's welfare during the ongoing fight against COVID-19, Vijayabaskar said anti-viral measures will be further stepped up.
The NIRT under the ICMR is an internationally recognised institution for TB research.