Saturday, 15 June, 2024
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UK approves one-shot RSV vaccine for babies

Britain’s regulator has given the go-ahead to a new single-shot vaccine that protects babies against the common and potentially dangerous winter virus known as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and which will also prevent severe chest infections like pneumonia.

The medication, called Nirsevimab, lasts for around six months, reports The Independent. RSV spreads easily in coughs and sneezes and has recently become a worldwide concern, with growing numbers of cases widely reported.

In older children and adults, RSV may cause a cough or cold, but in young children it can cause bronchiolitis and is the main reason why children under five have to go to hospital.

Lockdowns and social distancing restrictions helped prevent the spread of illnesses but now young children have little immunity.

Around 29 000 babies a year are hospitalised for RSV in the UK, and many don’t have any prior health problems.

A new study is now looking into whether Nirsevimab, which is produced by Sanofi and AstraZeneca, should be offered on the NHS.

Dr Simon Drysdale, consultant paediatrician in infectious diseases at London’s St George’s Hospital and co-leader of the study, told the BBC the treatment could eventually be given at birth or during routine immunisations at two months.

Nirsevimab has already been shown to reduce lower respiratory tract infections caused by RSV by 74.5% in trials involving 4 000 babies. It works by preventing RSV from fusing to cells in the respiratory tract and causing infections.

But it still needs more research in larger numbers of babies before it can be used on the NHS.

“We do need the hospitalisation data to make complicated decisions between different technologies available,” said Prof Saul Faust, co-study leader from the University of Southampton.

Another form of preventative treatment, a vaccine against RSV made by Pfizer, has produced promising results in trials in the US.

Given to pregnant women to protect their newborns, trials show the jab was 81% effective against severe respiratory illness because of RSV in the first 90 days of a baby's life. It also showed 69% protection for the first six months of a baby's life.

Pfizer plans to start the process of getting approval from medicines regulators by the end of this year.

Vaccines prompt the body to make antibodies to protect it against RSV, and this can take a month or two to happen.

An injected antibody treatment works straight away to protect against RSV.

An antibody treatment called palivizumab already exists for infants in the UK, but it has to be injected once a month for five months.

 

The Independent article – RSV: Single jab approved for virus that can cause deadly pneumonia in babies (Open access)

 

BBC article – Antibody jab approved for common winter virus RSV (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Respiratory virus killing 100,000 children a year – systemic analysis

 

Pfizer to apply for approval of first maternal RSV vaccine

 

Results from 7-country project highlights the need for new vaccines

 

 

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