Medical expert provides context on research into existing vaccines and COVID-19 protection

Medical expert provides context on research into existing vaccines and COVID-19 protection Photo: MGN Images.

Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: July 31, 2020 10:59 AM
Created: July 30, 2020 02:39 PM

KSTP medical expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou provides context on new research using data coming out of Mayo Clinic that takes a look at existing vaccines and whether they offer any protection against COVID-19.

In particular, the preliminary study, released Wednesday, takes a look at polio, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), and hepatitis A/hepatitis B vaccines, among others, administered in the past five years that “are associated with decreased SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection rates.”

Dr. Georgiou said it is important to note the exploratory study has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning the research is preliminary and the validity of the results has not been fully vetted.

Additionally, the results from this latest study are retrospective and only consider correlations between individuals, the vaccines they’ve received, and their risks of getting COVID-19, Georgiou explained. That means there isn’t the ability to draw a direct cause-effect relationship between people getting vaccinated and fighting COVID-19.

However, Georgiou did recently touch on research of this nature, using a different study, in her segment, "Inside Your Health,” earlier this week.

Inside Your Health: COVID-19 fact vs. fiction

"This is a new finding over the last week or two and we believe that it's possible that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may actually have a protective effect,” Georgiou said. “Measles, mumps and rubella are completely different viruses than the COVID-19 virus. It's not that the antibodies are helpful, it's that the vaccine itself also triggers your immune system to have a certain type of inflammatory response that is protective. So it's possible that that element of the vaccine could be helpful. It's possible that that's why children and teenagers who've had that MMR vaccine more recently who have higher titers are more protected.”

Georgiou said some vaccines are known to train the immune system in a way that broadly responds to viruses.

Additionally, Georgiou said it appears that the more recently an individual has received one such vaccine, “the more likely that ‘training’ can kick into gear.” Georgiou said that could explain why some children are less likely than some adults to become severely ill from COVID-19.

Georgiou went on to say, “The bottom line is, the CDC is not recommending people go out and get a new MMR booster, but if you haven't been vaccinated, or you're not sure, or there's some other reason why you should get a booster vaccine, it's something to consider."

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