The country's apex tuberculosis (TB) research institute has planned a study to assess whether a booster dose of the Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine can reduce the burden of Tuberculosis (TB), a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs.
The study by the National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT), which will see the enrolment of 9,000 household contacts of TB patients, aged 6-18 years, is now seeking funding support from the department of health research under the Union health ministry.
According to Dr Padmapriyadarsini, Director, ICMR-NIRT, "It's more like a BCG booster or BCG revaccination in the household contacts of TB patients. So, it is for the household contacts. If there is a TB patient, the household contacts who are between the age group of 6 and 18 years, will get a BCG booster. So this would be a BCG booster or BCG vaccination."
"All of them would be followed for a period of two years to see whether they develop TB.So, this study is undertaken to see whether BCG can protect the household contacts living with TB patients from developing TB." She further said.
At present, BCG vaccination is offered to all babies at birth as part of the country's Universal Immunisation Programme.
It is one of the most used vaccines globally to reduce the risks of natural tuberculous infection and the efficacy of BCG vaccination in newborns is well established due to its protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children.
NIRT through the study plans to find out whether the kids and adolescents who live in close proximity to TB patients develop TB after receiving BCG booster
The study will be conducted at multiple sites, Dr Padmapriyadarsini further said, "this will be done in multiple sites. We'll be doing the study on around 9,000 children who will be revaccinated. It's happening in almost eight centres. We hope to start the study soon by before August."
"Earlier studies on BCG at this institute have shown that BCG prevents complications of TB disease. It does definitely prevent severe forms of TB meningitis or severe form. But however, after the age group of adolescents, we'd not be seeing much protection by BCG. So that is a group, we're going to see if we can boost their immunity at that level." She added
The trials are underway for recombinant BCG vaccine for adults also, Dr Padmapriyadarsini said, "there is a recombinant BCG vaccine that has been tried. Hopefully, we should have some results by the end of this year."
According to the official sources, the proposal regarding the BCG booster study is under discussion with the Union Health Ministry. (ANI)