Fri, 06/19/2020 | News

New vaccine trial aims to reduce impact of COVID-19 in healthcare workers

Frontline healthcare workers at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead will be the first NSW participants to join the BRACE trial, investigating whether a vaccine traditionally used to treat tuberculosis (TB) can reduce the impact of COVID-19.

The BCG vaccination to Reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Australian healthcare workers following Coronavirus Exposure (BRACE) trial, launched by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), will test if the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine can protect healthcare workers exposed to SARS-CoV-2 from developing severe symptoms.

The BCG vaccine is one of the most widely used vaccines in the world, given to over 130 million babies worldwide each year. In addition to preventing TB, this vaccine also boosts immunity against a variety of other infections.

The clinical trials team at NCIRS and Kids Research, Sydney Children’s Hospital Network will be coordinating the trial in NSW with the other sites across Sydney that will be involved, including Westmead Hospital, Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick, Prince of Wales Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital. 

A $350,000 funding commitment from the NSW Health Services Union (HSU) has made the launch of the trial in NSW possible. The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is the first site to launch the trial in Sydney, officially starting to vaccinate frontline workers this week.

In total, this randomised controlled trial will test 10,000 healthcare workers across Australia, and other countries including the Netherlands and Spain. Half of the participants will receive the BCG vaccine while the other half will receive a placebo. Participants will then be tracked over a period of 12 months to record if they contract COVID-19 and the severity of their symptoms.

The trial’s rapid development and rollout across Australia has been made possible by philanthropic support, including a $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $700,000 from Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch, $400,000 from The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation (RCHF), $1.5M from The Minderoo Foundation, $200,000 from the South Australian government and support from the NAB Foundation, Calvert-Jones Foundation and individual donors.

Visit the MCRI website for more information on the BRACE trial.