A pair of US researchers are calling for a clinical trial to test their proposal that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine may help mitigate some of the most serious effects of COVID-19.
In an article published Friday by the journal mBio, Paul Fidel and Mairi Noverr, of Louisiana State University and Tulane University respectively, said MMR boosters can help strengthen people’s general immunity, offering protection against infections beyond those the vaccine is intended to prevent.
They said there is growing evidence that so-called live vaccines such as MMR — which attenuate viruses rather than “kill” them — provide “beneficial nonspecific effects,” helping reduce mortality and hospitalization from other types of infections.
They noted that deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, are often linked to inflammation and sepsis of the lungs, which the two argued MMR could help prevent in those infected with the pathogen.
The researchers said those more likely to be exposed to the virus such as healthcare workers should therefore be administered MMR as part of a trial, calling it a “low risk-high reward” measure.
At worst, “the MMR vaccine would provide added protection against measles, mumps, and rubella for older adults,” they said.
Their article highlighted a report suggesting that milder symptoms among 955 sailors aboard the USS Roosevelt aircraft carrier who tested positive for coronavirus may have been a result of the MMR shots given to all members of the US Navy.
They also hypothesized that the fact that children are seemingly less be affected by COVID-19 could be tied to their having more recently received attenuated vaccines.
The two stressed their proposal was “strictly a preventive measure against the worst inflammatory sequelae of COVID-19” and not a vaccine against the virus.