Measles-containing vaccines (MCVs) might offer children some protection against Covid-19 infection, shows early evidence from a study by researchers from BJ Medical College in Pune.
The study analysed 548 participants (aged 1 to 17) who were split into two groups — those who have tested positive for Covid (via RT-PCR) and those who haven’t. Researchers found the MCVs had vaccine effectiveness of 87.5% against SARS-CoV-2 and that vaccinated participants had less severe Covid symptoms than the unvaccinated.
The Pune findings support a much-discussed hypothesis that children are fairly protected against SARS-CoV-2 because of ‘non-specific immunity’ following inoculation with live attenuated vaccines, including measles-containing vaccines (MCVs) and the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) shot. The measles vaccine has been part of India’s universal immunisation programme for the last 36 years.
The research was published in the peer-reviewed international journal, Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, this month.
The researchers said although their findings are encouraging, larger trials would be needed before a definitive conclusion can be made. “The results of our study indicate that MCVs can be effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the paediatric population. This finding, however, needs to be confirmed further through prospective randomised clinical trials,” said paediatrician Nilesh Gujar, the study’s lead investigator.
The measles vaccine is given at 9 months and 15 months. In 2018, the Union government launched a campaign to cover children under 18 who had not received the vaccine at these ages. The children enrolled in the Pune study had documented evidence of vaccination.