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Understanding the BCG Vaccine: History, Benefits and Global Impact

Updated: Apr 23

In the world of vaccines, the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine holds a unique place. Developed a century ago, the BCG vaccine has been key in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) and continues to be essential in global health efforts. In this post, we'll delve into the history, benefits, and global impact of the BCG vaccination.

History: The story of the BCG vaccine begins in the early 20th century when French scientists Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin embarked on a mission to develop a vaccine against TB, a disease that was rampant and deadly. Through a series of experiments, they isolated a strain of Mycobacterium Bovis, a bacterium related to the TB-causing Mycobacterium tuberculosis and attenuated it to create the BCG vaccine. In 1921, the first human trial of the BCG vaccine was conducted, marking the beginning of a new era in TB prevention.

Benefits: Since its introduction, the BCG vaccine has proven to be highly effective in preventing severe forms of TB, particularly in children. Studies have shown the BCG vaccine reduces the risk of TB meningitis and miliary TB, two of the most severe forms of the disease, by up to 80%. Additionally, the BCG vaccine has demonstrated some protection against other mycobacterial infections and non-mycobacterial respiratory infections, further highlighting its importance in public health efforts.

Global Impact: One of the most significant contributions of the BCG vaccine has been its role in reducing the burden of TB worldwide. In many parts of the world, where TB is endemic, the BCG vaccine is administered to infants shortly after birth as part of routine immunisation programs. This widespread use has led to a substantial decline in TB-related mortality and morbidity, saving countless lives over the years.

The BCG vaccine stands as a testament to the power of scientific innovation in combating infectious diseases. The long history of use and proven efficacy make BCG vital in the fight against TB. As we navigate the challenges of infectious disease control in the 21st century, the BCG vaccine remains a cornerstone of preventive medicine, offering hope for a future free from tuberculosis.


  1. World Health Organization. (2021). BCG vaccine: WHO position paper, February 2018 - Recommendations. Weekly Epidemiological Record, 93(8), 73–96.

  2. Mangtani, P., Nguipdop-Djomo, P., Keogh, R. H., Trinder, L., & Smith, P. G. (2018). Duration of BCG protection against tuberculosis and change in effectiveness with time since vaccination in Norway: a retrospective population-based cohort study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 18(4), 395–405.

  3. Mangtani, P., Abubakar, I., Ariti, C., Beynon, R., Pimpin, L., Fine, P. E., Rodrigues, L. C., & Smith, P. G. (2014). Protection by BCG vaccine against tuberculosis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 58(4), 470–480.

  4. Fine, P. E. M. (1995). Variation in protection by BCG: implications of and for heterologous immunity. The Lancet, 346(8986), 1339–1345.

  5. Colditz, G. A., Brewer, T. F., Berkey, C. S., Wilson, M. E., Burdick, E., Fineberg, H. V., & Mosteller, F. (1994). Efficacy of BCG vaccine in the prevention of tuberculosis: meta-analysis of the published literature. Journal of the American Medical Association, 271(9), 698–702.

Safe Travels Clinic - BCG Tuberculosis (TB) Vaccination Centre

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Unknown member
27. März

Nice article and good information, thanks for sharing.

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Unknown member
01. März

This is very informative. Thank you.

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