The following is a brief roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Tuberculosis vaccine may limit COVID-19 deaths A tuberculosis vaccine routinely given to children in countries with high rates of that bacterial disease might be helping to reduce deaths from COVID-19, researchers reported on Thursday in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. After accounting for differences in factors that might affect vulnerability to the virus – such as income, education, health services and age distribution – the researchers found that countries with higher rates of Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccinations for tuberculosis had lower peak mortality rates from COVID-19. A good example was Germany, which had different vaccine plans before East Germany and West Germany were unified in 1990, the researchers said. COVID-19 mortality rates among senior citizens are nearly three times higher in western Germany than in eastern Germany, where more older people received the vaccine as infants, they found. Study co-author Luis Escobar of Virginia Tech said in a press statement that BCG vaccines have been shown to protect against other viral respiratory illnesses. Escobar cautioned that the new findings are preliminary. The BCG vaccine is currently being tested for preventing COVID-19 in healthcare workers. Weekly dorm screenings would not contain COVID-19 outbreaks Avoiding coronavirus outbreaks in college dormitories would require screening tests for residents at least every three days, according to Yale University researchers. Weekly screening would not be sufficient, they concluded. Their calculations, based on a computer model of 5,000 students and an 80-day semester, accounted for students’ on-campus exposures to the virus as well as imported infections from students traveling, wandering about town to restaurants and bars, or from visitors. Frequent testing would interrupt transmission of the virus only if infected students are isolated, the researchers said. “Students must comply with infection control, social distancing, test scheduling and (if testing positive) isolation requirements for the repeat testing system to work effectively,” the researchers said in a paper posted online on Thursday ahead of peer review. Also, the tests must be reliable, testing laboratories must guarantee timely results, and efficient communications and supports must be in place so students who test positive can be isolated quickly, they said. The researchers said universities must be prepared to close their residence halls if repeated testing fails to contain the spread of the pathogen on campus.