Breakthrough in RSV virus as vaccine gets UK approval

Breakthrough in RSV virus as vaccine gets UK approval

Pfizer UK have announced the approval of its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine ABRYSVO® (respiratory syncytial virus vaccine) in Great Britain by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The approval marks the first vaccine to be approved in the UK to help protect both infants through maternal immunisation and older adults from RSV1 – a highly contagious virus that is potentially life-threatening for infants and older adults.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause serious illness, especially in infants and older adults. In infants, RSV is the leading cause of viral respiratory disease, causing 15,000 babies under six months to be hospitalised in England every year. For older adults in the UK, it is estimated that RSV leads to 175,000 GP visits and 14,000 hospital admissions annually.

MHRA quote

The new vaccine, ABRYSVO, has been shown to be effective in preventing RSV infection in both infants and older adults. In a clinical trial of pregnant women, the vaccine was shown to reduce the risk of RSV infection in infants by 74%. In a clinical trial of older adults, the vaccine was shown to reduce the risk of RSV infection by 61%. The most common side effects are pain at the injection site, headache, and muscle aches.

“The approval of ABRYSVO is a major breakthrough in the fight against RSV,” said Dr. Beate Kampmann, paediatric infection & immunity at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “This vaccine has the potential to save countless lives and protect vulnerable people from serious illness.”

In June 2023, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued early advice to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) recommending the development of an RSV immunisation programme for both infants and older adults.

Dr Ronny Cheung, consultant paediatrician at Evelina London Children's Hospital wants to see the vaccine programme to be  rolled out quickly, commenting: “For decades, we healthcare professionals have had to manage this annual epidemic the best we could, our hands bound by a lack of effective options for preventing or treating RSV.

“The recent arrival of RSV vaccines should herald a new dawn for tackling this pervasive disease and yet, clinicians and parents continue to be frustrated by delays in the implementation of a national RSV immunisation programme. It is imperative that the advice of experts and NHS staff is listened to and a national RSV immunisation programme is implemented promptly.”

“The UK approval of our RSV vaccine represents significant progress towards reducing the impact of respiratory disease caused by the virus,” commented Dr Gillian Ellsbury, medical director for vaccines and antivirals at Pfizer UK.

Photo: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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