Century-old vaccine protects type 1 diabetics Against COVID

I read a lot of science announcements via Eurelalert.com, and this struck me as interesting. The studies were done at a major US medical facility, and were randomized and controlled, but sample sizes were small.

The BCG vaccine confers an immunity that likely lasts decades, a clear advantage to the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccines against other infectious diseases, such as influenza, where the duration of effectiveness is only two or three months. “The BCG vaccine offers the prospect of near-lifelong protection against every variant of COVID-19, the flu, respiratory syncytial virus, and other infectious diseases,” said Faustman

Century-old vaccine protects type 1 diabetics Against COVID | EurekAlert!


Very interesting. There’s a line in the article that shocked me:

“The investigators observed that the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines did not protect people with type 1 diabetes against COVID-19. “

I’d never read anything like that before. Do they mean that the vaccines don’t protect against getting Covid but still protect against severe disease? I’ve heard that the protection against getting Covid is short-lived but I’d never heard it was nonexistent.

Despite living a pretty cautious lifestyle, I’ve had Covid three times, more than anyone in my immediate family. I took Paxlovid each time and each case was less severe than the last. Of course, my personal experience doesn’t really show anything but I’d never heard that the vaccines acted any differently on type 1s than anyone else, just that the risk of the disease was greater for us.

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Gees, if that ends up being the case. What a game changer for Type 1’s!!!

A detriment is, it might take a few years to offer that protection. The US is also not avid about people taking the TB vaccine that don’t “need” it as it can make you show up positive on a skin test. And they use the skin test here a lot.

This is also the first I’ve heard about the Covid vaccines not working for type 1’s. I would ask why we haven’t heard about this before except unfortunately I know the answer. The government and manufacturers had vested interest in everyone taking them.

Another lack of information is the fact that early on I remember reading about Covid and Sars possibly interfering with Beta cells and causing type 1 and type 2 diabetes, you don’t hear much about that either. I would think it would be interesting to find out if our Type 1 lack of having/making Beta cells has something to do with the TB vaccine working specifically for Type 1’s against Covid infection and possibly other infections.

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The pandemic taught me a lot about reading medical research. Here is what I can figure out about this paper:

  1. A double blind randomized trial is great. A treatment arm of n=93 is too small to prove anything but can justify further research.
  2. The studied vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine that protects against tuberculosis (TB).
  3. The paper states people with T1D are more susceptible to all types of infection. News to me so I looked at the cited paper. Its a meta analysis (so it doesn’t prove anything but suggests areas for further study) and found that its data set (UK NHS) is what I call a hot mess with only ~750 people diagnosed with T1D also shown as recently getting insulin from pharmacies. This doesn’t meet my threshold for meaningful data.
  4. The paper never justifies their choice of limiting the study population to T1Ds.
  5. “We are not the first to report that diabetic subjects, including type 1 diabetic subjects, are not adequately protected against COVID-19 by the mRNA vaccines. 40 41” Citation 40 isn’t about T1Ds, it references diabetics as a shorthand for people with CHD, COPD, CKD, Obesity, etc. Citation 41 lists diabetics with no breakdown by type and does not support the author’s statement.
  6. @Tnyc This paper defines protection as preventing infection. However the COVID-19 vaccines define protection as significant reduction in severe illness death. So the authors are not wrong but they are moving the goalposts.
  7. The paper notes the TB vaccine has been studied about a dozen times for protection against COVID-19 half with positive results and half showing no benefit.
  8. The paper notes the TB vaccine requires 5-6 doses over 2 years to be effective.

In the end its not interesting, the focus on T1D is weird and I will keep an eye out for coverage by people smarter than me.


The BCG tuberculosis vaccine was given to all British children at the ages of 10-15 until 2005. Considering the severity of Covid-19 infections and death in the UK at the peak, I am not sure that this vaccine offered much protection since a large amount of the adult UK population was vaccinated with BCG.

I did a search for scientific documentation on the subject. The results are quite mixed ranging from offers good protection, to lessens the severity when infected and has no measurable effect.

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I appreciate the depth of your analysis.

It was not a standard BCG regimen, with 6 doses over a period of time…

It looks like the Times had an article about this a year ago. From the article, I get the sense that the multiple doses were essential and the fact that the test group were all Type1 diabetics was interesting, but perhaps not essential. (Which makes sense to me, if it works for us, presumably it would work for everyone.) I hope some research on this continues, but perhaps it doesn’t, given the failure of a single dose regime.

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