Coronavirus prevention: Researchers say Polio vaccine may be effective against COVID-19

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New Delhi: Researchers all over the world are working tirelessly to test existing treatments like drugs and vaccines, and to develop new vaccine candidates, as the coronavirus continues to claim thousands of lives every day. Recently, a world-renowned researcher, Robert Gallo, who co-discovered that HIV is the cause of AIDS, said that oral polio vaccine should also be tested to see if it can prevent COVID-19 infections.

However, the two viruses that cause the infections, Polio and COVID-19, respectively, are not even related. Nevertheless, here are some reasons why scientists think it might work.

Can the polio vaccine prevent COVID-19 infection?

The idea behind the use of polio vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is to activate the immune system with its help before the body is exposed to SARS-CoV-2. OPV is a live vaccine that temporarily grows in the gastrointestinal tract post-vaccination.

When a virus enters the body, even when it is a weakened virus in a vaccine, the immune system outs out all sorts of non-specific, protective chemicals to eliminate them. Therefore, if the OPV is already in the body, and has put the immune system into a defensive mode, it may attack the novel coronavirus if it enters the body, and therefore, the immune system may be able to stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the tracks, before it can become more widespread in the body and cause an infection.

Evidence that the OPV given to prevent polio can also prevent other viral infections, including cold, has helped researchers come up with this theory.

The longevity of the vaccine and its protection against SARS-CoV-2 is under question, but it is believed that the vaccine will be able to protect the body for about a few weeks to months. The vaccine may, at least, help delay the spread of the virus and relax healthcare systems a little. Moreover, the OPV has three different strains, in which case, one strain can be given individually, over a period of time, to extend the length of protection against the virus.

Another good part about the OPV is that it has been given to billions of people around the world and has proven extremely safe. The vaccine also does not cost too much, which will help in easy access.

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