Could currently used vaccines protect against COVID-19?

Data published earlier in 2020 suggest that children are at lower risk of experiencing severe symptoms and mortality from COVID-19, as well as suggesting that risk seems to increase with age[1]

I have a hypothesis that could explain this: children are being protected by the childhood vaccination programme.

Looking at China’s vaccination programme, at birth, infants receive two vaccines: the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which protects primarily against tuberculosis, and the hepatitis B vaccine.

BCG usually protects individuals for around 20 years, while the hepatitis B vaccine (which is administered in three doses: at birth, at one month and at six months) gives protection for around 10 years[3]
. Perhaps other childhood vaccines, such as the inactivated poliovirus vaccine, offer this protection against the COVID-19.

With the current lack of vaccination against COVID-19, perhaps people aged over 20 years should be vaccinated with the hepatitis B vaccine. This age could be increased to 50 years, if that approach is not cost effective.

Souad Moumene, practice pharmacist, Manchester


[1] Dong Y, Mo X, Hu Y et al. Pediatrics. 2020; In press. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-0702 

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Available at: (accessed March 2020)

[3]  Hu Y & Chen Y. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2017;14(7). doi: 10.3390/ijerph14070758

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2020, Vol 304, No 7936;304(7936):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207845

You may also be interested in