A study of 178 countries by an Irish medical consultant working with epidemiologists at the University of Texas in Houston shows countries with vaccination programmes – including Ireland – have far fewer coronavirus cases by a factor 10, compared to where BCG programmes are no longer deployed.
This translates into a death rate up to 20-times less, according to urologist Paul Hegarty of the Mater Hospital, Dublin.
Their “correlation” study, expected to be published shortly by PLOS journal, is largely a statistical one and comes with caveats because of possibility of confounding factors. But it is more comprehensive than an initial one conducted in New York, which prompted a scaling up of clinical trials on people with Covid-19.
To reduce the possibility of error, the researchers re-evaluated cases during the course of the pandemic and made country-by-country comparisons including between Ireland and the UK, Mr Hegarty said. “We did not expect to see such a marked difference.”
“Over the 15 days, incidence of Covid-19 was 38 per million in countries with BCG vaccination whereas the incidence of Covid-19 was 358 per million in the absence of such a programme. The death rate was 4.28 per million in countries with BCG programmes and 40 per million in countries without such a programme,” he added.