A SURVEY ON ITALIAN MEDICALS DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK. COULD BACILLUS
CALMETTE-GUÉRIN VACCINE BE EFFECTIVE AGAINST SARS-COV2?
Background: Epidemiological studies show that BCG vaccinated population
seems to be more likely protected from COVID-19 infection, but WHO gave
a stark warning on use of BCG vaccine without confirmed COVID-19 trials.
The aim of this survey is to assess the ability and readiness to respond
to viral infection by physicians who had been BCG vaccinated. Methods:
After Ethical Committee authorization, professional orders were used to
contact physicians with an online survey. Specialty, COVID-19 infection,
and previous BCG vaccination were recorded. Statistical data analysis
was performed. Results: 1906 medicals answered the questionnaire,
(M=1068; F=838; mean age 50.7+/-13.3; >24<87
yrs), more than half (1062; 55.72 %) experienced BCG vaccination.
Professional activity was recorded, and only 49 subjects (2.57%) of
them was infected by SARS-CoV2. Among the group of infected people,
asymptomatic form occurred in 12 subjects (24.5%); a pauci-symptomatic
form in 24 subjects (49.0%); a severe form (pneumonia and/or
respiratory distress) in 13 (26.5%). SARS-CoV2 infection rate was
2.17% (23/1062) in vaccinated group and 1.66 % (14/844) in
unvaccinated group (p=0.359). Conclusion: Our experience does not
confirm the possible protective role of BCG against COVID-19, pending
ongoing controlled trials. Although recent epidemiological studies point
out in BCG vaccinated population a lower prevalence of SARS-CoV2
infection, in our cohort of physicians no significant difference was
found in terms of prevalence of COVID-19 infection. Our data underline
the necessity to follow the WHO warning about indiscriminate use of BCG
vaccine, until clear evidence of protection by BCG vaccination against
COVID-19 is fully demonstrated.