Data from a trial seeking to determine whether multiple injections of a tuberculosis vaccine developed in the 1900s could protect high-risk diabetes patients from COVID produced some positive results, according to a study in Cell Medicine Reports.
The trial tracked COVID infections among a group of 144 participants, all of whom had Type 1 diabetes, with two-thirds receiving at least three doses of BCG, or Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin, shots, which protect people by bolstering the immune system, according to the study, as the New York Times reported.
The results found just 1% of the 96 people who got the BCG shots developed COVID, while 12% of the placebo recipients contracted the illness.
“The BCG group also displays fewer infectious-disease symptoms and lesser severity, and fewer infectious-disease events per patient, including COVID-19,” the authors wrote. “There were no BCG-related systemic adverse events. BCG’s broad-based infection protection suggests that it may provide platform protection against new SARS-CoV-2 variants and other pathogens.”
The BCG shots are still given to infants in parts of the world that continue to record TB cases.
The move comes as U.S. known cases of COVID are continuing to ease, although the true tally is likely higher given how many people are testing at home, where the data are not being collected.
The daily average for new cases stood at 100,747 on Tuesday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 18% from two weeks ago. Cases are falling in almost every state and are down 20% or more in more than a dozen states, namely Rhode Island, Florida, Nebraska, Connecticut, New York, New Mexico, California, Colorado, New Jersey, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Arizona, Wyoming, Hawaii, Alabama, Utah, Oregon and Illinois.
The daily average for hospitalizations was down 45 at 41,668, while the daily average for deaths is up 4% to 467.
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday called for a sweeping overhaul of the agency following its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, describing guidance for the public as “confusing and overwhelming,” the New York Times reported, citing a briefing document it obtained.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the CDC needs a structure that prioritizes public health needs and efforts to contain current outbreaks, and puts less focus on the publication of scientific papers about rare diseases.
“For 75 years, C.D.C. and public health have been preparing for Covid-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Dr. Walensky said. “My goal is a new, public health, action-oriented culture at C.D.C. that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication and timeliness.”
On Monday, Walensky told the paper she had urged CDC staff to turn around COVID data as quickly as possible. “Some of the data are messy, and some of the data take time,” she said. “I’ve really tried hard to push data out when we had it.”
Other COVID-19 news you should know about:
• A record number of people aged 50 and older in the U.K. have left their jobs earlier than previously expected, the Guardian reported, citing data from the Office for National Statistics. The ONS found some 77% of adults in that age group said they had quit early, with many citing the pandemic as playing a role in the decision.
• A California church that defied safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic by holding large religious services won’t have to pay about $200,000 in fines, a state appeals court ruled, the Associated Press reported. Calvary Chapel San Jose and its pastors were held in contempt of court and fined in 2020 and 2021 for violating state and county limits on indoor public gatherings.
• The Little League World Series is back after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, the AP reported. The youth baseball tournament has expanded to 20 teams from around the world that will play in South Williamsport, Pa., starting Wednesday. This year’s series marks the 75th anniversary of the first tournament, which has become a summertime staple in central Pennsylvania.
• Chaos unfolded at an Ikea store in Shanghai over the weekend after local authorities attempted to implement a surprise lockdown with shoppers still inside due to potential COVID exposure, the New York Post reported. Videos shared online by writer Fang Shimin and others showed shoppers scrambling to escape the store on Saturday before authorities could shut the doors. The rush to exit occurred after an announcement at the Ikea store revealed authorities would close the store and not allow anyone to enter or leave.
Here’s what the numbers say
The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 592.5 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose above 6.44 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with 93.2 million cases and 1,038,039 fatalities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 223.5 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 67.3% of the total population. But just 107.9 million have had a first booster, equal to 48.3% of the vaccinated population.
Just 21 million of the people 50 years old and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 32.7% of those who had a first booster.