For the first time, a vaccine has been approved to protect against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which has the potential to help thousands of people. RSV may be no worse than the common cold for most individuals, but for older individuals with health problems, it can be deadly. Each year, approximately 14,000 people over the age of 65 die from RSV in the United States, and tens of thousands more are hospitalized. In addition, young children are at risk for the virus that spreads easily. In the US alone, an approximate 100 to 500 infants die from serious infections caused by RSV each year, and developing countries have even higher numbers.
GSK, a pharmaceutical company, has developed a vaccine drug named Arexvy that protects against lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) caused by RSV. A similar technique that was used to develop a COVID vaccine was used to create this vaccine. In a trial of 25,000 participants, half received Alexby, and half received a placebo. Alexby reduced the risk of lower respiratory tract disease from RSV by 82.6% and severe disease at 94.1% in individuals over the age of 60. The vaccine approval was granted after these results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year.
Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Peter Marks, claims that “there is an increased risk of serious illness caused by RSV, including heart and lung disease and a weakened immune system.” The vaccine will significantly contribute to public health outcomes in preventing potentially life-threatening illnesses. The vaccine may have a significant impact on hospital bills in the United States, cost at around $1 billion each year.
GSK reports that other RSV vaccines are in the pipeline, including one for pregnant women. An immunologist at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta believes that this vaccine will pave the way for new and advanced RSV vaccines in the future. The company’s current goal is to make the vaccine available to eligible seniors in the United States and apply for regulatory approval in other countries.