Expert comment – vaccine for Respiratory Syncytial Virus 'just what we are waiting for'

Beate Kampmann welcomes findings from clinical trial of immunisation approach to help save children’s lives.
Beate Kampmann comments on RSV vaccine

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has released trial results showing a vaccine given to pregnant women provides high protection for babies from a potentially deadly respiratory illness.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a contagious virus affecting the lungs and breathing and is responsible for the death of around 100,000 children globally every year. There is no specific treatment for RSV apart from measures such as oxygen and fluids, and currently no vaccine.

Pfizer’s results – which the company said it intends to submit for peer reviewed in a journal - revealed that babies whose mothers had had the vaccine were 80% less likely to be severely ill from RSV in the first three months of life.

Beate Kampmann, Professor of Paediatric Infection & Immunity and Director of the Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “RSV is a major reason why babies end up in hospital, and it can be a lethal virus anywhere in the world. To have an effective vaccine that can be given to the expecting mothers before the babies are born is a great way of preventing this complication. 

“The results of this large scale clinical efficacy trial conducted across many countries, including in low-and middle income settings, are absolutely excellent. Speaking as a paediatrician, this is just what we are waiting for to implement soonest now, once all has undergone regulatory review and can then be adopted for clinical practice in many countries. 

“There is also already commitment from GAVI, the global vaccine initiative, to help with funding of a safe and efficacious RSV vaccine in resource-poor settings.”

Professor Kampmann is a principal investigator in the trial that has supported this data at a site in West Africa.

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