The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisors have recommended a new vaccine to protect infants from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) by vaccinating expectant mothers in the third trimester. The vaccine, named Abryvso and manufactured by Pfizer, aims to protect newborns from lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in their first six months of life. This recommendation comes as a significant milestone in the prevention of RSV, as there have been no previous options available.
The CDC director, Dr. Mandy Cohen, has supported the panel’s recommendations, stating that it is another tool to protect lives during the fall and winter seasons. RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization for infants in the U.S., causing 1.5 million medical visits, 60,000 to 80,000 hospitalizations, and up to 300 deaths in children under 5 each year.
The vaccine will be recommended for pregnant individuals in their third trimester during the fall surge in RSV, although health officials may offer different recommendations in regions with varying RSV seasons. The FDA’s approval of the vaccine in pregnant individuals last month set the parameters for the CDC advisory committee’s recommendations.
In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, another intervention for preventing RSV in babies is nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody produced by Sanofi and AstraZeneca. Both options offer protection against RSV, but the CDC advises parents to choose either the Pfizer vaccine or nirsevimab for their infants – not both. Each option is considered safe and has shown similar efficacy rates, although no direct comparison has been made between them.
The nirsevimab injection reduced the risk of medical visits from RSV in babies by 70 to 75% for at least five months. On the other hand, the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of severe RSV in infants by 82% during the first three months of life and by 70% in the first six months.
- RSV: Respiratory syncytial virus, a common respiratory virus that can cause severe respiratory illness, especially in infants and young children.
- Monoclonal antibody: A type of antibody produced in a laboratory that can specifically target certain cells or proteins.
Sources: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / AP