Correlation between universal BCG vaccination policy and reduced morbidity and mortality for COVID-19: an epidemiological study
COVID-19 has spread to most countries in the world. Puzzlingly, the impact of the disease is different in different countries. These differences are attributed to differences in cultural norms, mitigation efforts, and health infrastructure. Here we propose that national differences in COVID-19 impact could be partially explained by the different national policies respect to Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) childhood vaccination. BCG vaccination has been reported to offer broad protection to respiratory infections. We compared large number of countries BCG vaccination policies with the morbidity and mortality for COVID-19. We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination (Italy, Nederland, USA) have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies. Countries that have a late start of universal BCG policy (Iran, 1984) had high mortality, consistent with the idea that BCG protects the vaccinated elderly population. We also found that BCG vaccination also reduced the number of reported COVID-19 cases in a country. The combination of reduced morbidity and mortality makes BCG vaccination a potential new tool in the fight against COVID-19.