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RSV vaccine could reduce baby hospitalizations by more than 80%, study finds


A vaccine to combat a seasonal virus common in babies could reduce hospitalizations by more than 80%, a trial has shown.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) affects 90% of children before they reach the age of two, often causing a mild cold-like illness.

But infection can also lead to serious lung problems like pneumonia, and around 30,000 babies and young people are admitted to hospital in the UK each year, putting extra pressure on the system. NHS.

Scientists have said a vaccine called nirsevimab could offer a solution after a study suggested a single injection provided immediate protection against lung infections for up to six months.

The trial found this could lead to an 83% reduction in RSV-related hospitalizations.

It is already being rolled out in the US and Spain and is being considered for rollout in the UK, where it has been approved but is not yet available on the NHS.

Experts who worked on the study said the results showed the substance was safe and could protect thousands of babies.

What is nirsevimab?

Nirsevimab is a monoclonal antibody, composed of artificial proteins designed to mimic the natural antibodies of the human immune system.

Like other vaccines, it is administered by injection.

The study included 8,058 babies aged less than 12 months, with one randomly assigned group receiving a single dose and the others receiving the usual treatment.

Only 11 people who received the vaccine ended up in hospital for RSV-related infections, compared to 60 in the standard group.

The researchers reported that this corresponded to an effectiveness of 83.2%.

Jab could ‘significantly’ help the NHS

Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group at Oxford University, said the vaccine could help combat a virus that is putting “enormous pressure” on Britain’s health system.

Over the past two winters, cases were higher than usual After Covid pandemic measurements in previous years suppressed cases, meaning children had much lower immunity.

Sir Andrew said the vaccine could help “protect the youngest in society and significantly ease winter stresses in the NHS”.

One of the scientists involved in the study, Professor Saul Faust of the University of Southampton, said he hoped it would help the UK decide how to proceed with a national vaccination rollout.

The University of Southampton was one of three UK universities whose experts worked on the research, along with Southampton University Hospital and St George’s University Hospital, London.

The research was funded by Sanofi and AstraZeneca and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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