BCS first responders invited to participate in Texas A&M COVID drug trial

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 8:55 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Texas A&M University scientists are continuing their work on a vaccine that would help with COVID-19. Now, they are asking first responders to serve as volunteers for the scientific trial.

However, the vaccine being studied is not specifically a COVID-19 vaccine; it is a tuberculosis vaccine known as BCG.

“We’ve been working on this for many, many years,” said Jeffrey Cirillo, the lead pathologist on this study. “What we found is that with various viral infections similar to COVID-19, we see a tipping of the immune response toward a disease that results in more severe disease. What this vaccine does is it controls that response of people to the virus that’s bad, and reduces it, and targets it toward the disease itself, and has the ability to strengthen the immune response to allow people to get better faster and prevent mortality. That’s what we’re expecting. We’re expecting it to reduce the mortalities that occur and the severity of disease.”

Initially, only medical professionals in the Bryan-College Station area were invited to participate in the Texas A&M BCG trial. Cirillo says his team is excited to be able to expand the opportunity to first responders in BCS.

“The other individuals that are on that front line, are our first responders: the police, fire departments, EMTs,” said Cirillo on Brazos Valley This Morning. "These individuals interact with COVID-19 patients all the time, every single day, and they were some of the first infected. “We saw some very, very high frequencies of infection, so we felt we really needed to expand as quickly as we possibly could.”

The BCG trial team is seeking to enroll 500-700 more volunteers for the trial. If you are a first responder interested in learning more or volunteering, click here.

“The faster we get full enrollment, the faster we’ll be able to provide the results,” said Cirillo. “That’s one of the biggest concerns we have, is to be able to vaccinate as large a population as possible as early as possible. Without these volunteers very early on, we won’t be able to get the results out to the public.”

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