Can MMR Vaccination Protect Against COVID-19 Disease?

MMR vaccine should be able to reduce severe lung inflammation and sepsis associated with COVID-19 disease
two baby children lying on the floor together

Administering the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine could serve as a preventive measure to dampen septic inflammation associated with coronavirus infection, researchers stated in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

'There is mounting evidence that live attenuated vaccines (such as the MMR) provide nonspecific protection against lethal infections unrelated to the target pathogen of the vaccine by inducing “trained” nonspecific innate immune cells for improved host responses against subsequent infections,’ stated these researchers on June 19, 2020.

Live attenuated vaccines induce nonspecific effects representing "trained innate immunity" by training leukocyte (immune system cells) precursors in the bone marrow to function more effectively against broader infectious insults.

Dr. Paul Fidel, Associate Dean for Research at Louisiana State University Health School of Dentistry, commented in a press statement: "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 disease."

"A clinical trial with MMR in high-risk populations may provide a low-risk-high-reward preventive measure in saving lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In the laboratory of Dr. Mairi Noverr, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, in collaboration with Dr. Fidel, vaccination with a live attenuated fungal strain-induced trained innate protection against lethal polymicrobial sepsis.

Mortality in COVID-19 cases is strongly associated with progressive lung inflammation and eventual sepsis.

The protection was mediated by long-lived myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) previously reported inhibiting septic inflammation and mortality in several experimental models. 

The researchers say ‘that an MMR vaccine should be able to induce MDSCs that can inhibit or reduce the severe lung inflammation/sepsis associated with COVID-19.’ 

Mortality in COVID-19 cases is strongly associated with progressive lung inflammation and eventual sepsis.

Recent events provide support for the researchers' hypothesis.

The milder symptoms seen in the 955 sailors on the USS Roosevelt who tested positive for COVID-19 (only 1 hospitalization) may have been a consequence of the fact that the MMR vaccinations are given to all U.S. Navy sailors.

In addition, epidemiological data suggest a correlation between people in geographical locations who routinely receive the MMR vaccine and reduced COVID-19 disease fatality rates.

"COVID-19 has not had a big impact on children, and the researchers hypothesize that one reason children are protected against viral infections that induce sepsis is their more recent and more frequent exposures to live attenuated vaccines that can also induce the trained suppressive MDSCs that limit inflammation and sepsis," the authors wrote.

“While the MDSCs are long-lived, they are not life-long cells.” 

“So, a booster MMR would enhance the antibodies to measles, mumps, and rubella and reinitiate the MDSCs. We would hope that the MDSCs induced by the MMR would have a fairly good life-span to get through the critical time of the pandemic,” concluded Dr. Fidel.

Dr. Noverr was recently awarded a “Fast Grant”, part of Emergent Ventures at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University, to test the efficacy of MMR directly in a nonhuman primate model of COVID-19 infection.

In the meantime, these researchers suggest that all adults, especially healthcare workers and individuals in nursing homes, get a dose of the MMR vaccine.

With reports of COVID-19 disease cases in all 50 states, disruptions were anticipated in the U.S. health care system’s ability to continue providing routine preventive vaccinations, such as the MMR.

In response to these concerns, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted guidance on March 24, 2020, emphasizing the importance of well-child immunizations.

Parental concerns about potentially exposing their children to COVID-19 during well-child visits might contribute to the decline in vaccinations during 2020.

In response, the CDC has encouraged coordinated efforts between healthcare providers and public health officials at the local, state, and federal levels will be necessary to achieve rapid catch-up vaccination for children.

Measles vaccination news published by Precision Vaccinations.