Could a vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella help prevent the most severe complications of COVID-19?


A common childhood vaccine might help prevent severe lung inflammation and sepsis if a person is infected with COVID-19. LSU Health New Orleans researcher Dr. Paul Fidel suggests that live attenuated vaccines such as MMR can help boost an adult’s immune system to mount a more effective defense.

“It’s not going to prevent them from getting infected or getting exposed or anything like that but if they did get exposed and infected, it could dampen the severe complications,” said Fidel.

The MMR vaccine protects children from getting measles, mumps, and rubella. Fidel says the antibodies generated from the MMR vaccine could be a reason why only a few children have suffered from severe COVIID complications. He says using the MMR vaccine on adults is a low risk and high reward preventive measure.

“If we are wrong, you’ll get nice, new antibodies for measels, mumps, and rubella but if we’re right then we would be potentially helping people,” said Fidel.

LSU Health New Orleans is partnering with Tulane University on researching this theory. Fidel says they plan to give the MMR vaccination to adult primates to see if it can prevent severe complications of COVID-19 and humans as well.

“We’re proposing those trials in healthcare workers and nursing homes where individuals are healthy enough to get the vaccination,” said Fidel.

A similar concept is being tested in other countries with a tuberculosis vaccine.