Researchers have found that a vaccine used for mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) may be effective in protecting against more severe symptoms from COVID-19.
The study comes after findings from a team at Mexico Sur in Mexico City suggesting that the MMR vaccine may be able to reduce symptom severity in those with COVID-19. In this paper, published in September 2020, researchers observed that among 255 people vaccinated with the MMR vaccine since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 36 were later infected with the virus and had a 'remarkably mild course'.
To follow up on this work, researchers led by Jeffrey E. Gold, president of Rescue Me/ World Organization, an animal shelter in Watkinsville, GA, set up a study to investigate the connection between the MMR vaccine and the severity of symptoms from COVID-19 infection in recovered patients.
For the study, they recruited 80 people and put them into two groups. A group of 50 had MMR antibodies from the MMR II vaccine, while a comparison group of 30 people had no record of MMR II vaccinations, nor any history of MMR antibodies from infections with measles, mumps, or rubella.
All in all, the researchers found that those with antibodies for mumps had significantly less severe COVID-19 symptoms than those in the comparison group. In particular, they found that those who were asymptomatic with COVID-19 tended to have higher levels of mumps antibodies. In turn, they found a significant inverse correlation between the number of mumps antibodies each person had and the severity of their symptoms from COVID-19.
"This [the findings] adds to other associations demonstrating that the MMR vaccine may be protective against COVID-19." says Jeffrey E. Gold, lead author of the study. "It also may explain why children have a much lower COVID-19 case rate than adults, as well as a much lower death rate. The majority of children get their first MMR vaccination around 12 to 15 months of age and a second one from 4 to 6 years of age."