ALABAMA (WHNT) — Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the leading cause of hospitalization for infants and children under the age of five according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now, doctors hope a new drug could help change that statistic.
While Beyfortus is not a vaccine, the FDA says it shows promise in reducing the risk of young children developing RSV infection.
Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) agrees.
“It’s been shown to be very safe, and like I said, effective in clinical trials,” Dr. Stubblefield told News 19.
The FDA says Beyfortus (nirsevimab-alip) is a monoclonal antibody treatment. It uses lab-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens like viruses.
One dose is recommended by the CDC for infants younger than 8 months “born during – or entering – their first RSV season.” RSV season typically runs from the fall through the spring.
The CDC also recommends the drug to children between the ages of 8 and 19 months who are at a higher risk for severe RSV.
Dr. Stubblefield said, “This could be very important for limiting some of the severe disease with RSV, keeping kids out of the hospital, out of the emergency room, out of doctor’s offices.”
He recommends parents keep an eye out when the drug becomes available.
“It’s not on the market yet, but it’s expected to be by the fall, so parents need to be aware of it and be discussing it with their healthcare provider,” he said.
The FDA approved the drug based on three studies that showed it reduced the risk of RSV infection between 70% and 75% among infants and children younger than two years old.
The drug could have a major impact on the health world, as Dr. Stubblefield says RSV is quite common.
“Essentially, all children get this virus at some point in their life,” he said. “Most children get it and don’t have severe problems, the younger you are the higher the risk,” he added.
While it is not a vaccine, Beyfortus is administered by an injection.
Its manufacturer, AstraZeneca, expects it to be ready by the fall.
This year alone has been big for RSV treatment. In addition to the preventative drug, Beyfortus, two RSV vaccines were approved for older adults, and the FDA is expected to make a decision later this month on Pfizer’s vaccine for pregnant women.