Researchers have recently published a new study that shows how vaccinations against tuberculosis also provide protection against other diseases, such as yellow fever.
New research shows how the immune system, through the use of living viruses, can be trained to protect us against diseases other than the one for which the vaccine is originally designed. Behind the research is Christine Stabell Benn, professor in Global Health at the University of Southern Denmark and head of the Center for Vitamins and Vaccines (CVIVA) at Statens Serum Institut (SSI). Stabell Benn’s research group has discovered how the BCG vaccine also provides a protective effect against yellow fever as well as other infections.
The study was originated with the aim of reducing the death rate among newborn babies in Africa within their first month. The children were vaccinated with BCG, which contains living virus particles that subsequently activate the immune system. Thus, the immune system was already in a state of alert, which evidently enabled it to create a better protection against yellow fever, lung infections, and blood poisoning.
Together with a series of previous research studies, it is most likely that the death rate can be decreased by at least 30%, a result that, according to Stabell Benn, cannot solely be explained by the protection against tuberculosis itself.
Stabell Benn believes that the mechanism works not only with regard to the BCG vaccine and yellow fever, but is able to achieve the same effect when used with other vaccines.
“We believe that it is most likely that all the living vaccines can reorganize the immune system, so it will improve the ability to protect itself against various different infections,” Stabell Benn explained to videnskab.dk.