Early vaccination with BCG-Denmark or BCG-Japan versus BCG-Russia to healthy newborns in Guinea-Bissau: A randomized controlled trial

Frederik Schaltz-Buchholzer, Morten Bjerregaard-Andersen, Christian Bjerregård Øland, Christian Golding, Elise Brenno Stjernholm, Ivan Monteiro, Peter Aaby, Christine Stabell Benn

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BACKGROUND: Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination remains a cornerstone against tuberculosis. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) has demonstrated that BCG-Denmark lowers all-cause mortality, but a recent RCT found no effect of BCG-Russia. Observational studies indicate that the genetically divergent BCG strains have different effects.

METHODS: Parallel-group, open-label RCT conducted at the National Hospital in Guinea-Bissau. Healthy neonates were randomized 1:1 to BCG-Denmark (2,851 randomized, 2,840 analyzed) versus BCG-Russia (2,845 randomized, 2,837 analyzed). We hypothesized that BCG-Denmark would reduce morbidity (primary outcome) and mortality while inducing more BCG reactions and Purified Protein Derivative (PPD) responses (secondary outcomes). Halfway through the trial, production of BCG-Denmark was halted, and the trial continued comparing BCG-Japan (3,191 neonates randomized, 3,184 analyzed) with BCG-Russia (3,170 randomized, 3,160 analyzed). Mortality and morbidity data were collected by telephone, at home-visits and at the National Hospital and assessed in Cox-models providing 6-week Mortality Rate Ratios (MRRs) and hospitalization Incidence Rate Ratios (IRRs).

RESULTS: By age 6 weeks, there were 140 admissions among neonates vaccinated with BCG-Denmark and 130 admissions for BCG-Russia, IRR=1.08 (95% Confidence Interval: 0.84-1.37). For BCG-Japan there were 185 admissions versus 161 admissions for BCG-Russia, IRR=1.15 (0.93-1.43). The 6-week mortality did not differ, BCG-Denmark/BCG-Russia MRR=1.15 (0.74-1.81); BCG-Japan/BCG-Russia MRR=0.71 (0.43-1.19). BCG-Denmark and BCG-Japan induced more BCG scars and PPD reactions than BCG-Russia.

CONCLUSION: BCG strains did not affect morbidity. BCG-Denmark and BCG-Japan were more immunogenic than BCG-Russia by the measures traditionally viewed as surrogates for successful immunization. The implications of strain differences for tuberculosis protection and overall health warrant further study.

TidsskriftClinical Infectious Diseases
Antal sider11
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 3. nov. 2019