The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved the world's first respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine for older adults.
AREXVY, produced by biopharma company GSK, is a single-shot vaccine for adults 60-years-old and older.
In a clinical trial, AREXVY was 94% effective at preventing severe RSV in seniors.
“Very exciting. I don't think people realize how often that individuals get sick from RSV,” said Dr. Michelle Barron with UC Health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 160,000 older adults are hospitalized with RSV every year, and between 6,000 and 10,000 die.
“They can have exacerbations of underlying lung issues — some people just really can't breathe. And it's not unlike what happens to kids, where you start to have a lot of wheezing and coughing and you just can't breathe,” Barron said.
Symptoms of RSV usually appear four to six days after infection and include:
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
There’s no specific treatment for the virus.
RSV is typically associated with severe illness in young children. Spikes in the virus lead to hundreds of hospitalizations of children this past fall in the Denver metro area.
Researchers are making progress on providing RSV preventative treatment for everyone.
“There’s also a study that was recently published looking at women that were pregnant and giving it to them as a way of preventing getting the baby sick, because then you give the baby some of the antibody and also mom doesn't get sick,” Barron said.
AREXVY is expected to be available in the fall pending CDC recommendations.