Protection against SARS-CoV-2 by BCG vaccination is not supported by epidemiological analyses
The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine provides protection against tuberculosis (TB), and is thought to provide protection against non-TB infectious diseases. BCG vaccination has recently been proposed as a strategy to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 (CoV-2) to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, supported by its potential to boost innate immunity and initial epidemiological analyses which observed reduced severity of COVID-19 in countries with universal BCG vaccination policies. Seventeen clinical trials are currently registered to inform on the benefits of BCG vaccinations upon exposure to CoV-2. Numerous epidemiological analyses showed a correlation between incidence of COVID-19 and BCG vaccination policies. These studies were not systematically corrected for confounding variables. We observed that after correction for confounding variables, most notably testing rates, there was no association between BCG vaccination policy and COVD-19 spread rate or percent mortality. Moreover, we found variables describing co-morbidities, including cardiovascular death rate and smoking prevalence, were significantly associated COVID-19 spread rate and percent mortality, respectively. While reporting biases may confound our observations, our epidemiological findings do not provide evidence to correlate overall BCG vaccination policy with the spread of CoV-2 and its associated mortality.