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Other Vaccinations Shown to Help Prevent Covid-19

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(Ewa Urban, Pixabay)

26 Feb. 2021. An analysis of health records suggests people vaccinated earlier against childhood and adult infectious diseases are also less likely to contract Covid-19 infections. The analysis, performed by the medical analytics software company nference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with health data from the Mayo Clinic, appears in today’s issue of the journal Scientific Reports.

The nference-Mayo Clinic team — the company spells its name in all lower-case letters — is seeking to discover any associations between earlier vaccinations and Covid-19 cases. Just as existing drugs are being tested to treat Covid-19 infections, the nference-Mayo Clinic researchers are investigating if current vaccinations to protect against other infectious diseases may also invoke the immune system to stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19, even without one of the new Covid-19 vaccines.

nference is a developer of software for analyzing large volumes health care data, including scientific journals, genetic reports, and electronic health records. The data records are drawn from patient medical files, lab reports, medical images, clinical trials, insurance claims, genomic and molecular databases, and scientific literature. Most of these data are stored in separate incompatible databases, and in many cases are in unstructured forms, such as text documents. nference uses deep learning and other artificial intelligence techniques to analyze these massive and diverse data volumes, looking for underlying patterns and a fuller understanding of health care issues.

The company provides its analytical software as a service for pharmaceutical companies and health care providers, including the Mayo Clinic. For this study, an nference team led by company founder and chief scientist Venky Soundararajan, analyzed electronic health records of more than 137,000 individuals at the Mayo Clinic and affiliated hospitals receiving reverse transcription – polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR tests for SARS-CoV-2 viruses. RT-PCR tests are the so-called gold standard for detecting the virus.

Several disease vaccinations associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 rates

The researchers examined these electronic records looking for evidence of 18 earlier vaccinations, including routine childhood vaccines such as polio and measles-mumps-rubella, as well as adult vaccines for influenza, hepatitis A and B, and other diseases for up to five years. The team then compared rates of positive SARS-CoV-2 tests to the 18 other vaccinations, and also stratified the results by age, race, and blood type.

The results show several childhood and adult vaccinations in the Mayo Clinic records administered in the last one, two, or five years, are associated with lower rates of SARS-CoV-2 viruses: polio, haemophilus influenzae type-B, measles-mumps-rubella, varicella or chickenpox, pneumococcal conjugate or PCV13, geriatric flu, and hepatitis A and B.

Breaking down the results by age, race, and blood type revealed a noticeably lower rate of SARS-CoV-2 virus detection among Black individuals who also received the PCV13 vaccine in the previous five years. The PCV13 vaccine protects against infections from pneumococcal bacteria, responsible for pneumonia and meningitis, as well as sinus, ear, and blood stream infections.

“What we discovered,” says Soundararajan in an nference statement released through Cision, “represents compelling evidence that vaccinations are a critical element in prevention of disease, even diseases one doesn’t anticipate.” Co-author Andrew Badley, chair of Mayo Clinic’s Covid-19 task force adds, “If you think of your immune system as a muscle, the more often you exercise that muscle, the stronger it is.”

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