Dr Caryn Upton and Prof Andreas Diacon, founder and CEO of TASK as a health worker receives a BCG booster shot

The TASK Clinical Research Centre in Bellville, Cape Town has commenced with its trial to determine if BCG revaccination could reduce the probability of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and/or the severity of symptoms of COVID-19 disease. The placebo-controlled adaptive randomised controlled trial will involve around 500 healthcare workers and is led by Prof Andreas Diacon, Professor of Medicine and Principal Specialist in Pulmonology at Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital and Dr Caryn Upton.

The primary objective of the trial is to find out if a booster shot of BCG reduces disease severity, hospital admissions and death in frontline workers with direct patient contact during the pandemic phase of COVID-19.

After vaccination TASK will follow up regularly with telephonic or electronic interviews to capture events such as SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, respiratory tract infection or hospitalisation. The study team will regularly run statistical tests to see if an advantage of BCG re-vaccination can be shown. There will be an independent committee looking at the results. If there is a robust enough positive signal the results will be made public.

This study is currently funded by TASK and limited to 500 participants.

“External funding would allow an increase in the number of participants. This would in turn detect a protective effect of BCG (re)vaccination more quickly. Thus, we are calling on all appropriate entities, internal sponsors and funders and local government to make further funds available,” TASK said in a statement.

To join the study as a participant:

Call or WhatsApp: 079 050 2775

Email: bcg@task.org.za