CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — An international research group of doctors and scientists is launching a clinical trial to see if a vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella can protect health care workers from getting SARS-CoV-2, the disease that causes coronavirus.
Researchers point to growing evidence that suggests the MMR vaccine — which has been around since the early 1960s — may have benefits due to the similarities between the viruses. The research team has said that the vaccine could boost a patient’s immunity and may prevent infection from SARS-CoV-2 for a limited period.
The Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is coordinating the trial, which is looking to enroll as many as 30,000 health care workers worldwide.
Dr. Michael Avidan, the lead researcher of the COVID-19/MMR vaccine study, joined NewsNation to elaborate on the study.
He believes there are two reasons the MMR vaccine will work in treating SARS-CoV-2.
“The MMR is made up of weakened viruses that actually look pretty similar to the SARS corona 2 virus. So when we get this vaccine, our bodies might make antibodies to measles, mumps and rubella, these weakened viruses, but these antibodies might also recognize the SARS coronavirus 2. The other is a really interesting mechanism which has been discovered within the last 10 to 20 years, which is called trained immunity. And it turns out that when our body is exposed to these live, weakened vaccines — like the MMR or a couple of others like our old Polio vaccine or the BCG — our immune system has a big boost and gets primed for future infections. And we discovered this with measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in Africa and other countries, where we saw when children were getting the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine suddenly their susceptibility to other infections really plummeted.”Dr. Michael Avidan