A SPANISH doctor claims that the triple vaccine given to young children could be the reason why youngsters are not badly affected by COVID-19.

Dr. Pedro Reche, an immunologist and researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid, has found evidence of ‘cross-reactive immunity’ to COVID-19.

Simply put, antigens produced by the DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) vaccine routinely given in the first few months of life help provide immunity against the coronavirus.

Since 2006 Reche has been leading the Immunomedicine Group at the university, which focuses on the development of computer-aided designs of vaccines.

Founded on his experience and evidence that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is particularly virulent in the elderly while children are largely spared, Reche began to search for the origin of this possible acquired immunity among all the vaccines administrated to children.

“It is normal for the geriatric population to suffer an infection and for it to be serious, because the immune system is weakened. What is not normal is for a small child whose immune system is being formed and educated not to suffer this type of infection,” Reche said.

The strongest correlation factor in COVID-19 cases and severity is age. In fact, the majority of COVID-19 fatalities occur among the elderly (90% of the victims are over 70 years) while the paediatric population is largely spared.

For several months Reche has carried out computer research which has confirmed his hypothesis: “The existence of extensive cross-reactive immunity between the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the antigens present in the triple bacterial vaccine DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis), which is prescribed during the first months of life”.

Reche believes that the protection of infants, children and young people to COVID-19 could be due to this cross-reactive immunity.

Moreover, the triple bacterial vaccine DTP is the most frequently repeated vaccine: three or four doses are scheduled during the first year of life, it is reinforced at four to six years old and finally a low antigenic load dose is given between nine and 14 years.

Additionally in countries such as Mexico or Indonesia, which don’t follow the same vaccination programme as many European countries, there are reports of alarming infant mortality due to coronavirus, leaving Reche to conclude that the vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) may be responsible for such protection.

The study has been published in Frontiers in Immunology.

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