Could a booster shot of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine help battle coronavirus?
"The MMR vaccine is known to protect kids against infections that go far beyond the three viruses targeted by the vaccine. The theory is that the vaccine boosts general immunity, in addition to training the body to recognize specific viruses," the website notes.
"There is mounting evidence that live attenuated vaccines provide nonspeciﬁc protection against lethal infections unrelated to the target pathogen of the vaccine by inducing 'trained' nonspeciﬁc innate immune cells for improved host responses against subsequent infections," Paul Fidel from Louisiana State University, and Mairi Noverr of Tulane University, penned in a letter to the journal mBio. Adding, "A clinical trial with MMR in high-risk populations may provide a 'low-risk--high-reward' preventive measure in saving lives during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic."
But this approach -- even if it is successful -- is not the same as getting a vaccine for the virus, which has infected over 2.5 million Americans, and over 10 million globally.
"We emphasize this is strictly a preventive measure against the worst inﬂammatory sequelae of COVID-19 for those exposed/infected and does not represent an antiviral therapy or vaccine against COVID-19 in any manner," Fidel and Noverr explained.
A reported theory about why COVID rates in children are lower is due to their recent vaccinations, which may provide the recipient with residual extra immune benefits. But, pediatrics professor Dr. Peter Hotez from Baylor College of Medicine reportedly questions this, telling CNN that kids may be less vulnerable due to recent infections with some of the other coronaviruses that cause the common cold. "This might stimulate local or systemic cross protecting immunity," he said.
Despite the uncertainty regarding this treatment, Fidel feels there will be overall health benefits to it. "If we're wrong, well, at least people will have new antibodies to measles, mumps, and rubella. So there's no harm, no foul," he told CNN.
As always, The Doctors stress the importance of continuing to follow all prevention guidelines: social distancing, routine and frequent handwashing, wearing a mask when in public, the cleaning of high touch surfaces, avoiding people who are sick, and if you are experiencing COVID symptoms or believe you have been exposed, contact your doctor or healthcare provider about getting tested. Find out more information about local COVID-19 testing in your area, including free testing.