U.S. health officials said Thursday that infants should receive a recently approved drug to defend them against a respiratory infection that annually sends tens of thousands of children to the hospital.
An infection with RSV is a cold-like nuisance for the majority of healthy individuals, but it can be fatal for infants and the elderly. As there are currently no vaccines for infants, the new drug, a laboratory-produced antibody that aids the immune system in fighting the virus, is anticipated to fill a critical void.
The drug, developed by AstraZeneca and Sanofi, is anticipated to be available in the fall, prior to the typical RSV season from November to March. Approximately 58,000 children younger than 5 are hospitalized annually in the United States due to RSV, and several hundred perish.
Expert Advisors Urge Single RSV Vaccination for Neonates and High-Risk Infants
A council of external advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the one-time vaccination for neonates born just before or during the RSV season and for those younger than 8 months old before the season begins. In addition, they recommended a dose for some 8- to 19-month-olds at increased risk for severe RSV-related illness.
The CDC director approved the panel’s recommendations on Thursday evening.
Dr. Mandy Cohen told The Associated Press this week, “We had a terribly bad RSV season last year and I’m thrilled that we have a new tool to protect our infants.”
The drug, which will be marketed under the brand name Beyfortus, is anticipated to cost $495 per dose and be covered by insurance. Panelists acknowledged that initially it will be difficult to administer the vaccine and for insurers to reimburse providers.
Source: AP News