COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - First News at Four sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Cirillo, he’s a leading researcher at Texas A&M and a large part of the development of a COVID-19 vaccine here locally, to discuss vaccine safety.

Dr. Cirillo explains that vaccines are a proactive way to prevent diseases from infecting you or in other words, create immunity. He says vaccines are the most cost-efficient healthcare method and also tend to be the safest because the vaccinated person, in most cases, will never experience any of the symptoms of the virus.

Dr. Cirillo says there are three distinct ways to make a vaccine:

1.) Attenuated vaccine: Dr. Cirillo explains this method as such, “we’ll take the organism that causes disease and hurt it in such a way that it’s no longer able to cause disease, but then give that to people because it doesn’t make them sick but it allows them to respond. And the attenuated vaccine induces good protection oftentimes against the real disease."

2.) Part of the virus: Dr. Cirillo says this vaccine works like this, “we take part of the organism that’s causing the disease and we put that in. And by responding to that part, the individual then is protected against future appearances of that organism in their body.”

3.) Genetic/ DNA immunization: Dr. Cirillo explains this method, “we take genomes of the organisms and put that into you. And by responding to that we have the ability to prevent the disease in the future.”

The vaccine currently being developed by Pfizer uses the third method.

However, Dr. Cirillo and a team of researchers from Texas A&M University, in collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College Medicine, and Cedars Sinai Medical Center are studying an innovative vaccine of their own.

The group is researching the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination, a nearly 100-year-old commonly used tuberculosis (TB) vaccine, that may help prevent COVID-19 infection and/or mitigate the severity of the illness compared to a placebo. The team is currently studying the vaccine as a booster of the immune response and seeing if the BCG vaccine reduces illness severity from coronavirus.

Right now, the test is in stage four trials and is expanding to include workers in high-risk jobs like teachers and grocery store workers.

The group needs more volunteers and you can help. To sign up to be a volunteer the study and for more information, go to health.tamu.edu/bcgtrial/.

Watch the complete interview in the player above.

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