ANN ARBOR—If the United States had mandatory tuberculosis vaccination in place several decades prior, the total number of coronavirus-related deaths might not have reached triple digits by late March.

In fact, according to a new University of Michigan report, the U.S. would have suffered an estimated 94 deaths, which would have been only 4% of the actual death toll of 2,467 in this country on March 29.

The report—titled “Mandated Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination predicts flattened curves for the spread of COVID-19″—is an analysis of daily reports of COVID-19 cases and related deaths in more than 50 countries.

Researchers say countries that have a current policy mandating BCG vaccination, a TB vaccine, have significantly slower growth of both cases and deaths, as compared to all other countries.

The preprint article, which is currently under review, builds on prior evidence that the BCG vaccination—typically given at birth or during childhood—offers a long-lasting protective effect not only against tuberculosis but also against various other infectious diseases.

BCG may be effective when a substantial proportion of the population is made resistant to a virus. That is to say, the spread of the virus may be slowed only when there is “herd immunity” that prevents the virus from spreading easily across the population, said Martha Berg, the study’s lead author and a U-M psychology graduate student.

The study’s co-authors are U-M psychology graduate students Qinggang Yu, Cristina Salvador and Irene Melani, and psychology professor Shinobu Kitayama.

Read the full article at Michigan News.