A potential new vaccine which could save the lives of babies and young children

Many of you may not have heard of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) but if you have young children, you probably will. This month the New Scientist includes an article on the development of a vaccine for this winter bug which most children will have caught by the time they reach two.

For the majority, it’s a minor illness causing flu-like symptoms but for a minority, it causes severe inflammation of the smaller airways, and the bronchioles and can lead to the admission to paediatric intensive care and sadly, occasionally death.

Boston’s Children’s Hospital has been undertaking work to develop a vaccine for RSV. They used what is called the F protein from the RSV virus; this is similar to the spike protein in Covid; it’s the bit the virus uses to enter cells. Following on from successful mice studies the vaccine was tested successfully on a small number of newborns, providing effective immunity.

The results were encouraging, and the team now need to do further work to test the vaccine in large numbers. This is another example of the progress we are now seeing in vaccine development.

As a GP I would regularly see many children through the winter months with RSV. Most were stable and didn’t need admission to hospital but every year I would see very poorly children; this vaccine would save lives.

Paul Zollinger-Read CBE

Group Medical Director 

The views expressed in the blog are my own personal views and are not intended as medical advice.

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