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Childhood vaccine may help prevent severe COVID-19

People whose immune systems responded strongly to a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may be less likely to become severely ill if they are infected with the new coronavirus, new data suggests.

The MMR II vaccine, manufactured by Merck and licensed in 1979, works by triggering the immune system to produce antibodies.

Researchers reported on Friday in mBio that among 50 COVID-19 patients under the age of 42 who had received the MMR II as children, the higher their titers — or levels — of so-called IgG antibodies produced by the vaccine and directed against the mumps virus in particular, the less severe their symptoms.

People with the highest mumps antibody titers had asymptomatic COVID-19. More research is needed to prove the vaccine prevents severe COVID-19.

Still, the new findings “may explain why children have a much lower COVID-19 case rate than adults, as well as a much lower death rate,” coauthor Jeffrey Gold, president of World Organization, in Watkinsville, Georgia, said in a statement.

“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.”

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