RSV infections are potentially life-threatening for infants and the elderly. Two pharmaceutical companies are working on a vaccine and are about to be approved.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is mostly known to parents. Because the child is hardly spared. Waves of RSV disease are typical for colder periods, often already at the beginning of autumn. The virus triggers severe respiratory infections that can even be life-threatening, especially in the first years of life. It can also be dangerous for the elderly due to a lower immune system.
RSV is a worldwide a widespread pathogen of acute diseases of the upper and lower respiratory tract at all ages and one of the most important pathogens of respiratory infections in infants, especially premature and young children.
Until now, there was no vaccine against it. The development of such RSV vaccines was preceded by many years of intensive research, in one case tragic incidents.
With the positive results of the study, British pharmaceutical company Glaxo-Smithkline (GSK) is now holding out hope for the first approval of an RSV vaccine for adults/seniors. The company has developed a vaccine for this age group that has proven itself in clinical trials and is currently being approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
In a study of about 25,000 adults over the age of 60, the vaccine was 82.6 percent effective, according to the company. The effectiveness of the vaccine against severe lower respiratory tract disease associated with RSV infection was 94.1 percent. “These are truly extraordinary results considering that despite more than 60 years of research, RSV is now one of the most important infectious diseases for which there is no vaccine,” said GSK Research Director Tony Wood.
Vaccination for pregnant women by Pfizer
Pfizer is also working on a vaccine – but for pregnant women. This approach is primarily intended to protect newborns in the first months of life. As a result of the vaccination, the pregnant woman develops antibodies against RSV, which are transferred to the fetus through the placenta and thus protect it from the day of delivery.
This concept has been tested in a now completed validation study. In this Matisse study (MAternal Immunization Study for Safety and Efficacy), approximately 7,400 pregnant women in 18 countries were randomly vaccinated with a single dose of 120 micrograms of vaccine or placebo. It happened at the end of the second or third trimester of pregnancy. “The study was launched in June 2020 and thus covered several waves of the disease,” writes Deutsches Ärzteblatt.
The vaccine reduces hospital stays by 82 percent for infants younger than 90 days and by 69 percent for children younger than six months, according to study data. The company plans to submit the vaccine to the US FDA for approval by the end of the year. There is currently no known planned submission for Europe.