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Worldwide inverse correlation between Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunization and COVID-19 mortality.

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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to all countries in the world, and different countries have been impacted differently. The study aims to understand what factors contribute to different COVID-19 impacts at the country level.


Multivariate statistical analyses were used to evaluate COVID-19 deaths and cases relative to nine other demographic and socioeconomic factors in all countries and regions of the world using data as of August 1, 2020. The factors analyzed in the study include a country's total COVID-19 deaths and cases per million population, per capita gross domestic product (GDP), population density, virus tests per million population, median age, government response stringency index, hospital beds availability per thousand population, extreme poverty rate, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination rate, and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) immunization rate.


The study reveals that COVID-19 deaths per million population in a country most significantly correlates, inversely, with the country's BCG vaccination rate (r =  - 0.50, p = 5.3e-5), and also significantly correlates a country's per capita GDP (r = 0.39, p = 7.4e-3) and median age (r = 0.30, p = 0.042), while COVID-19 cases per million population significantly correlate with per capita GDP and tests per thousand population. To control for possible confounding effects of age, the correlation was assessed in countries propensity score matched for age. The inverse correlation between BCG vaccination rates and COVID-19 case (r =  - 0.30, p = 0.02) and death (r =  - 0.42, p = 0.0007) remained significant among the top 61 countries with the highest median age.


This study contributes to a growing body of evidence supporting the notion that BCG vaccination may be protective against COVID-19 mortality.

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