BCG vaccination provides protection against IAV but not SARS-CoV-2

Eva Kaufmann, Nargis Khan, Kim A. Tran, Antigona Ulndreaj, Erwan Pernet, Ghislaine Fontes, Andréanne Lupien, Patrice Desmeules, Fiona McIntosh, Amina Abow, Simone J.C.F.M. Moorlag, Priya Debisarun, Karen Mossman, Arinjay Banerjee, Danielle Karo-Atar, Mina Sadeghi, Samira Mubareka, Donald C. Vinh, Irah L. King, Clinton S. RobbinsMarcel A. Behr, Mihai G. Netea, Philippe Joubert, Maziar Divangahi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Since the vast majority of species solely rely on innate immunity for host defense, it stands to reason that a critical evolutionary trait like immunological memory evolved in this primitive branch of our immune system. There is ample evidence that vaccines such as bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) induce protective innate immune memory responses (trained immunity) against heterologous pathogens. Here we show that while BCG vaccination significantly reduces morbidity and mortality against influenza A virus (IAV), it fails to provide protection against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). In contrast to IAV, SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to unique pulmonary vasculature damage facilitating viral dissemination to other organs, including the bone marrow (BM), a central site for BCG-mediated trained immunity. Finally, monocytes from BCG-vaccinated individuals mount an efficient cytokine response to IAV infection, while this response is minimal following SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, our data suggest that the protective capacity of BCG vaccination is contingent on viral pathogenesis and tissue tropism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110502
JournalCell Reports
Issue number10
StatePublished - 8 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • BCG vaccination
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • animal models
  • hematopoietic stem cells
  • influenza virus
  • lung pathology
  • monocytes
  • trained immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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