Can Measles Rubella (MR) vaccine really help fight Covid-19, as claimed by a Nepali medical scientist whose claims have gone viral again.
The government of Nepal has been administering one dose of measles vaccine to all infants since 1989. Later, as its national immunization programme expanded further in 2013, MR vaccines are being given free of cost to all children at 9 and 15 months of age.
Meanwhile, Dr RK Dhaugoda’s Tiktok video, posted on 19th October 2020, has gone viral again with nearly a thousand shares. In that video Dr Dhaugoda argues that MR vaccines could help people under the age of 20 stay safe from serious Covid illness.
In the video, Dr Dhaugoda says in Nepali, “Hi guys, today I’m going to tell you a very important information regarding Corona. Why people under 20 years of age didn’t catch corona virus and they didn’t die of Covid? It’s because people under 20 People were vaccinated with measles vaccine when they were children. That’s why people under 20 generally don’t contract corona and even if they do, they don’t get seriously ill.
“Most of the people that have suffered from Corona are over 50 years of age and they haven’t got measles shot. Now people over 50 years of age should go and get MR (Measles-Rubella) vaccine. The vaccine is available in Nepal’s hospitals and health posts. It’s a live attenuated vaccine. After you get this vaccine, you generally don’t contract Corona and even if you do you won’t get seriously ill. The structure of Corona virus and Rubella virus that causes measles is similar and the viruses look 30 percent alike. That’s why measles vaccine will help us.”
Although medical doctors like Dr R K Dhaugoda have suggested that Measles-Rubella vaccine may work to prevent Covid-19 and its new variants, no scientific evidence exists as yet to prove that MR vaccine can prevent the spread of coronavirus and Covid-related illnesses.
For instance, many children and younger people who have been given MR vaccines in Nepal have contracted or even died of Covid, according to medical experts.
Dr Baburam Marasini, former director or Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Department of Health Service, Nepal told Newschecker: “It would be wrong to promote MR vaccine as an alternate to Covid vaccine. No scientific evidence exits yet to prove that it can prevent coronavirus infections or severe Covid.”
He suggests further scientific studies are needed to prove such hypothesis. Also, the World Health Organization is yet to approve MR vaccine as an alternative to Covid vaccine.
Covid vaccines in Nepal
A year after Coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan, China, spread around the world in pandemic proportions, scientists have successfully trialed and tested several vaccines including Sputnik, AstraZaneca (Covishield), Sinapharm, Pfizer.
But Nepal is still struggling to get Covid vaccines to immunise its masses.
The virus started affecting people of all ages right since the First Wave, and people below 18 years of age weren’t spared either. During the First Wave, over 21,000 people below the age of 18 contracted the virus, with at least 38 of that age group died of Covid.
Of Nepal’s nearly 30 million people, nearly 22 million are awaiting vaccination. Only “frontline workers” and some senior citizens have got the jab as of early July 2021.
Health experts suggest Covid safety protocols such as SMS (Social Distance, Mask and Sanitizer) and vaccination of people of all ages to prevent losses from Covid.
Conclusion: Measles Rubella (MR) vaccine can’t help fight Covid-19, as claimed by medical scientist and doctor Dr R K Dhaugoda.
Result: Misleading. Covid Misinformation.
Interview with Dr Baburam Marasini, former director, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Department of Health Services.