Researchers Suggest MMR Vaccine Could Protect Against COVID-19 Symptoms

June 25, 2020

The MMR vaccine may demonstrate some degree of protection against septic inflammation, a symptom of COVID-19, according to a team of experts.

A new perspective paper published in the American Society for Microbiology’s mBio suggests that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine can guard against certain symptoms attributed to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).1

Co-authored by Paul Fidel, Jr, PhD, department chair, oral and craniofacial biology, and associate dean for research at Louisiana State University Health School of Dentistry in New Orleans, Louisiana and Mairi Noverr, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, the article indicates that the MMR vaccine in particular has the potential to lessen septic inflammation associated with COVID-19 infection.1

In a press release, Fidel explained that the MMR vaccine, as a live attenuated vaccine, could provide relief for symptoms in patients who may not actually have the target pathogen. Noverr’s lab results corroborate this, as MMR was able to induce myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) that could inhibit septic inflammation in non-COVID-19 cases. Researchers posit that the same vaccine could therefore reduce severe lung inflammation and sepsis, a key finding considering that COVID-19 deaths are often attributed to these symptoms.2

Further evidence was found in the 955 sailors on the USS Roosevelt who tested positive for COVID-19, according to the article. The sailors exhibited milder symptoms, which may have been because all US Navy recruits must receive the MMR vaccine.1

The researchers proposed a clinical trial to gather more data as to the full extent of the vaccine’s protection against the virus, and suggested that adults, especially those who risk contracting COVID-19, get a booster MMR vaccine.1

“While we are conducting the clinical trials, I don’t think it’s going to hurt anybody to have an MMR vaccine that would protect against the measles, mumps, and rubella with this potential added benefit of helping against COVID-19,” Dr Fidel said.2

The authors concluded that, if this hypothesis is correct, MMR vaccination in adults could represent a “low-risk, high-reward” preventive measure during the critical period of the COVID-19 pandemic.1

References

  1. Fidel PL, Noverr MC. Could an unrelated live attenuated vaccine serve as a preventive measure to dampen septic inflammation associated with COVID-19 infection. mBio. 2020. 10.1128/mBio.00907-20
  2. MMR Vaccine Could Protect Against the Worst Symptoms of COVID-19. News release. American Society for Microbiology. June 19, 2020. Accessed June 22, 2020. https://www.asm.org/Press-Releases/2020/MMR-Vaccine-Could-Protect-Against-the-Worst-Sympto