The BCG vaccine can protect children from TB infection, a study published in The BMJ has shown.
The meta-analysis of 14 studies showed that children under 16 years old who had been given the BCG vaccine were less likely to develop a TB infection after exposure to the disease.
It also revealed that the vaccine can prevent the progression of TB from infection to a more severe condition.
The study also identified a geographical variation in the efficacy of the vaccine. Studies conducted in countries above 40° latitude (UK, Spain, Greece, Italy, Turkey) showed a 26 per cent effectiveness while studies in lower latitudes 20-40° (The Gambia, Indonesia, South Africa and Cambodia) and 20-0° latitude showed no evidence of protective effect.
Dr Anjana Roy, senior scientist for PHE, said: 'This finding will have implications for the use of BCG in current immunisation programmes as well as in the future development of new improved tuberculosis vaccines. It reinforces the recommendation that the BCG vaccine should be given as soon as possible after birth to prevent children from getting infected.'