MMR jab could help slow Covid spread until vaccine is ready, study finds

THE MMR jab could help slow the spread of coronavirus until a vaccine is ready, scientists say.

Studies have found children may have a lower rate of Covid infection because of the controversial measles, mumps and rubella jab.

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And those who were given the jab as a child suffer far less severe symptoms of coronavirus.

In many cases, people had mild symptoms or no symptoms at all if they had the vaccine.

Scientists now hope the MMR jab could slow the spread of coronavirus while Brits wait for the vaccine to be ready.

Professor David Hurley, of the University of Georgia, said: "The MMR II vaccine is considered a safe vaccine with very few side effects.

"If it has the ultimate benefit of preventing infection from Covid 19, preventing the spread of Covid 19, reducing the severity of it, or a combination of any or all of those, it is a very high reward low risk ratio intervention."

What is the MMR vaccine and when was it first introduced?

The MMR is a safe and effective combined vaccine that protects against three separate illnesses – measles, mumps and rubella, which is also known as German measles – in a single injection.

The MMR vaccine was introduced in the UK in 1988.

The full course of MMR vaccination requires two doses, and is administered at one year of age, and at around three years four months.

Sometimes the vaccine can be given to younger babies if they have been exposed to the measles virus or if there is a national outbreak.

But many young adults born in the late nineties and early 2000s missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were children.

This is because in 1998 Brit doctor Andrew Wakefield made headlines around the globe by claiming there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

His findings – published in medical journal The Lancet – are believed to have led to widespread concerns among parents giving their children the jab.

The Lancet retracted the story in 2010 after Wakefield's article was found to have been "dishonest" by the General Medical Council.

He was later struck off before the story was declared fraudulent by the British Medical Journal in 2011.

The MMR jab is typically given to all infants from nine-months-old.

The vaccine protects against three separate illnesses – measles, mumps and rubella – in a single injection.

Prof Hurley, for journal mBio, added: "The statistically significant inverse correlation between mumps antibodies and Covid-19 indicates that there is a relationship involved that warrants further investigation."

"If it has the ultimate benefit of preventing infection from Covid-19, preventing the spread of Covid-19, reducing the severity of it, or a combination of any or all of those, it is a very high reward low risk ratio intervention.

"It would be prudent to vaccinate [people of all ages]."

In April, experts from the University of Cambridge found the MMR jab could be used to protect against Covid.

They discovered the key proteins in measles, mumps and rubella viruses have some unexpected similarity with certain proteins in the virus causing Covid-19, known as SARS-CoV-2.

It isn’t known whether the similarity is close enough to drive a cross-reactive immune response, but this is likely to be the focus of future research.

It comes as leaked documents revealed every adult will be vaccinated against coronavirus by April.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night the first Brit patients could get a vaccine in December, subject to approval.

He confirmed that the government has formally asked the regulator – the MHRA – to assess the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for use in the UK.

Pfizer announced it has applied to the US regulator to push through its Covid vaccine – found to be 95 per cent effective – for approval.

If the vaccine is approved in the US, it could be ready by mid-December offering hope Brits could get getting the jab in just a matter of weeks.

AstraZeneca's joint effort with Oxford University is also seeing a positive response – with an immune response triggered in people of all ages.


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