‘Powerful’ new RSV prevention drug should be available to all infants this fall, CDC says

Come fall, a new antibody drug should be available to protect U.S. newborns and infants younger than 8 months from severe RSV infections.

Every infant and child under 8 months should receive a “strong” new drug to protect them from respiratory syncytial virus next season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Thursday.

The new drug is not a vaccine, but contains laboratory-made proteins that bind to the virus and prevent infection.

The recently approved RSV drug, called Beyfortus, is expected to be on the market this fall.

RSV is a common respiratory infection that, in most children, causes mild cold-like symptoms.

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Especially during the first episode of RSV infection, infants are at risk for serious lung infections, including pneumonia, where the air cells in the lungs fill with fluid, and bronchiolitis, where the small airways of this organ swells. Each year, about 1% to 3% of 1-year-old US children are hospitalized due to RSV, the Food and Drug Administration noted in endorsing Beyfortus.

Premature babies, children with chronic lung disease, and children with severe congenital heart disease are at greatest risk.

The CDC estimates that every year 100 to 300 children under the age of 5 in the United States die from the disease.

The FDA recently approved the first RSV vaccine, which is approved for use in adults 60 years of age and older.

Similar vaccines for infants and young children are in development but have not been approved. There is already an anti-RSV for babies – Synagis – but it is reserved for the most vulnerable babies due to its high cost and the fact that it requires many shots in a short time, STAT News reports. believe.

Instead of training the immune system to make its own antibodies to fight RSV, like a vaccine, the new drug provides the body with a ready-to-use supply.

The drug’s main ingredient is a lab-made protein that mimics disease-fighting antibodies normally produced by the body’s immune system.

Beyfortus’ antibodies recognize and lock onto “Prefusion RSV” – the form in which the virus exists before infecting human cells.

The existing drug Synagis is also a lab-made antibody treatment, but Beyfortus requires only one injection instead of multiple. In a 10-0 vote, a CDC advisory group recommended widespread use of this new antibody in infants younger than 8 months of age and some high-risk infants in older age groups, according to STAT News.

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The CDC officially adopted the recommendation a few hours later.

Helen “Keipp” Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University and an advisory board member, told STAT News: “I think it’s going to be life-changing and I’m excited.

The CDC recommends the Beyfortus shot for all infants younger than 8 months old who were born during or just entering their first RSV season.

For some children 8 to 19 months of age who are at high risk for serious illness, including those with weakened immune systems, the CDC has recommended one dose during the second season of RSV. CDC advisors “voted to include nirsevimab in the Children’s Vaccines program, which provides free recommended vaccines and immunizations for about half of the country’s children. CDC currently. is working to make nirsevimab available through the Vaccines for Children program,” the agency said. Notification. 

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