- Higher infection rate of COVID-19 in children is found to be associated with the role of the routine vaccine immunization schedule
- The measles vaccine extends up to 87.5% protection in children against the COVID-19 virus
- The similarity in the amino acid sequence of SARS-CoV-2 and its spike/s protein to that of rubella and measles virus contributes to promising outcomes of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine against the pandemic
Speculation of a higher infection rate of COVID-19 in children is found to be related to routine immunization schedules among them, as the third wave of the pandemic hovers upon the population.
Among the various vaccines, the measles vaccine may offer protection of up to 87.5% efficacy in children against COVID-19 virus, as per a study using Measles Containing Vaccines (MCVs) at the Pune-based BJ Medical College, published in peer-reviewed journal Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics.
What is Measles?Measles is a serious viral infection characterized by upper respiratory illness like cough, runny nose (coryza), along with fever and rashes. It is also known as morbilli or rubeola or red measles and is a highly contagious disease induced by a measles virus of the paramyxovirus family.
The best possible way to counter this fatal disease is by administering two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine to the child through a regular immunization program.
Shielding Effect of VaccinesVaccines are very well known for their powerful role to combat deadly epidemics and pandemics for ages. They contain the killed or weakened form or only a part of the same microbes that are accountable for the disease. This, in turn helps in mounting an immune response in the body and produces antibodies against the live microbes for later protection.
For instance, the measles vaccine contains an attenuated form of the measles virus to protect against the infection in later life. Hence vaccines help prevent the diseases, unlike other medicines that only treat or cure them.
What the Study RevealsThe present retrospective case-control study analyzed 548 participants between the ages of 1 to 17 years from the Department of Community Medicine. This included 2 groups of participants - those who had already tested positive for coronavirus through RT-PCR tests and those who were negative.
Less severe COVID-19 symptoms were revealed among the children under the age of 18 years, who were immunized with measles vaccine when compared to those who did not receive any such vaccination before. The vaccine is also found to provide long-term protection against the virus independent of age and sex.
"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," states the study.
Potency of the Measles VaccinesThe measles vaccine (MMR - measles-mumps-rubella) may aid in the prevention of the cytokine storms which is the prime mechanism in COVID-19, thereby combatting the virus.
There are no approved COVID-19 vaccines for children below the age of 18 years. However, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had granted permission to Bharat Biotech to carry out phase-II and phase-III trials among children of 2-18 years age group, with its COVID-19 vaccine - Covaxin.
While the vaccine for children is awaited, the data thereby proves as a hope for preventing and also minimizing the severity of the third wave of COVID-19 among kids through massive MCV's vaccines immunization drive.
"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. Those who have not been fully vaccinated or received a single dose must get inoculated so that they are protected against measles and also might get some protection against Covid-19," says Dr. Nilesh Gujar, who is a pediatrician by profession and the lead investigator of the study.
There are various studies done to speculate the protective effect of the MMR vaccine against COVID-19. However, further clinical trials are required for confirmation of the data.
Fight the Pandemic!
- With the anticipation of the third wave of Coronavirus, it is advisable to follow CDC approved COVID-appropriate safety practices like wearing a mask, regularly cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue along with physical distancing (6 feet about 2 arm's length), that may help evade the severity of COVID-19 infection
- Avoid the crowd and keep away from gatherings
- Staying home as far as possible in properly ventilated spaces
- Seek medical advice at the earliest if any symptoms suspected of COVID-19
- Maintain a healthy diet to boost and strengthen your immune system
- Measles vaccine may protect children against COVID-19: Study- (https://www.freepressjournal.in/india/measles-vaccine-may-protect-children-against-covid-19-study)
- MMR Vaccine Could Protect Against COVID-19- (https://asm.org/Press-Releases/2020/November/MMR-Vaccine-Could-Protect-Against-COVID-19)