26 September 2023

Frontline health workers to be needled

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Five hundred front line healthcare workers and paramedics in NSW are to join an international trial to discover whether the tuberculosis (TB) vaccine reduces the impact of COVID-19.

Announced by Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard the BRACE trial, initially launched by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, will run for a trial period of 12 months and be rolled out in several hospitals over the coming weeks.

“This virus is not going away any time soon, so until we have a proven vaccine, trials like this alongside daily testing and COVID-safe behaviours, are vitally important,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Our front line health workers risk exposure to COVID-19 every day, so the sooner we can find a breakthrough and fingers crossed it is the BCG anti-TB vaccine, the better for all of us,” he said.

Staff Specialist in Immunisation at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Rama Kandasamy said workers had already been vaccinated at the Children’s Hospital Westmead, while staff at Westmead Hospital, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Prince of Wales and St Vincent’s would be vaccinated in the coming weeks.

“Half the participants will receive the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine and the other half will receive a placebo and they will be monitored to see if they contract COVID and the severity of their symptoms,” Dr Kandasamy said.

“This trial sets the scene for us to be at the forefront of COVID-19 specific vaccine trials and the results could be the key to providing at-risk groups early protection,” he said.

Dr Kandasamy said NSW healthcare workers and paramedics were among 10,000 people across Australia, Spain and the Netherlands to participate in the trial.

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