Phased-out vaccines might provide protection against diseases that they are not designed to protect against.
Researchers at Statens Serum Institut (SSI) and the University of Southern Denmark have shown that Danes vaccinated against smallpox and tuberculosis (the Calmette/BSG vaccine) are less likely to die from a number of unrelated diseases such as heart and circulatory conditions, infections and neurological disorders, reports Videnskab.dk.
It seems as if the vaccines strengthen the immune system so that the body can better combat potentially fatal conditions.
Another piece of the puzzle
In a study that looked at 46,000 Danes, the risk of dying from other diseases was 43 percent lower amongst those who had received the Calmette/BCG vaccination compared to people who had not had the two vaccinations.
“We think it is extremely interesting and another piece of the puzzle in our understanding of why some vaccines can model the immune system in a way that changes the risk of getting other diseases,” said Andreas Rieckmann from SSI.
However, the researchers cannot rule out the possibility that other factors as well as the vaccines play a part.
Maybe think again?
The Calmette/BCG vaccine has been phased out and is no longer part of the Danish vaccination program for children.
The researchers believe the new study suggests that it might be a good idea to think twice before phasing out other vaccines that at the moment are considered superfluous because the disease is nearly eradicated – for example the vaccines against measles and polio.