Measles vaccine is 87.5 per cent effective against coronavirus in children and can provide long-term protection against the virus, as per a study.
Children immunised with measles vaccine are less likely to show severe COVID-19 symptoms on getting infected by the virus as compared to those without any such prior vaccination, the study by Pune-based BJ Medical College found.
The study, published in peer-reviewed journal Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, comes at a time when there are some concerns that the third wave of COVID-19 can affect children.
The study was conducted on 548 children in 1-17 years age group, who were divided into two groups -- those who had tested positive for COVID-19 and others who were negative.
"Measles Containing Vaccines (MCVs) reduced incidence of laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in children. Number of symptomatic cases were also lower in the vaccinated group compared to the unvaccinated group," the study said, adding that age and sex did not influence the protection offered.
"This is the world's first such study. We focused on MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines for the study since the amino acid sequence of SARS-CoV-2 is nearly 30 per cent similar to that of rubella virus. The spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 is also similar to the hemagglutinin protein of the measles virus. That is why we did the study and the results are promising," Dr Nilesh Gujar, who is the lead investigator of the study, told India Today.
The MMR vaccine may also help prevent cytokine storms, a condition in which body starts to attack its cells and tissue rather than confronting the virus, in children infected with COVID-19, Gujar added.
The researchers of the study called for more trials to confirm their findings.
So far, no COVID-19 vaccine had been approved for those below 18 years of age in India. Last month, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had granted permission to Bharat Biotech for carrying out phase-II and phase-III trials of its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin in children of 2-18 years age group.
(Edited by Purnima Priyadarsini)
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