The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first treatment to prevent serious respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in children and infants. RSV is a common virus that circulates in autumn and winter. Most children with RSV usually have mild, cold-like symptoms, but some, especially those exposed to the virus for the first time, can develop life-threatening respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis.
Respiratory syncytial virus, the nirsevimab antibody in the vaccination schedule in Spain
by Elena Bozzola
How it works and for whom it is indicated
Treatment based on the monoclonal antibody Nirsemivab (trade name Beyfortus), consists of a single dose given by injection before or during a child's first RSV season. It is also indicated for children up to 2 years of age who remain vulnerable to RSV during their second season, such as those with chronic lung or heart disease.
Bronchiolitis and drugs, what to use according to the new guidelines
A dangerous virus
Respiratory syncytial virus is the cause of about 80% of respiratory infections in infants under one year old and causes 16 times more hospitalizations than influenza. And about 20% of these children end up in intensive care. In these young patients, the infection begins as a common cold and then precipitates within a few days in a series of symptoms, coughing and wheezing above all, which make breathing so difficult as to lead to malnutrition and dehydration. It's bronchiolitis.
Younger children are the category most at risk
"RSV can cause serious illness in infants and some children and results in a large number of visits to the emergency room and doctor's offices each year," he explains. John Farley of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research of the FDA - today's approval addresses the growing need for products that help reduce the burden of RSV disease on children, families and healthcare systems."
Respiratory syncytial virus, a drug to protect children
by Elena Bozzola
The antibody already approved in Europe but not yet in Italy
To reduce the risk of bronchiolitis and hospitalization in newborns, a monoclonal antibody has been used for many years and is administered to premature babies and those most at risk (palivizumab); on the other hand, nirsevimab was also authorized in Europe a few months ago (it has not yet arrived in Italy), which can be given to all newborns and small children at the beginning of the winter season. To date, the only authorized vaccine - for now only in the United States - against the respiratory syncytial virus is dedicated to people over 60, the group which, together with infants, is most vulnerable to the infection.