TAMPA, Florida. As the parent of a 4 year old, Rocky Harrison knows that microbes are part of life.
“Especially all the time, as soon as he overcomes something, he goes back to school and comes back with something else,” dad said.
For many children, that “something else” is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This respiratory virus can be serious in some infants and young children because it can cause conditions such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis.
RSV usually spreads during the fall and winter months. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 1-3% of children under the age of one year are hospitalized.
“That’s anywhere from one to three children in a hundred, which is a huge number when we’re talking about any disease,” said Dr. Lisa Cronin, pediatrician at Tampa Children’s Medical Center.
For the past few years, RSV has occupied Dr. Cronin and her staff, and there was no treatment they could offer to the majority of sick patients. However, this should change soon.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Beyfortus, the world’s first drug to prevent RSV in infants and toddlers. Dr. Cronin believes the approval will be a “game changer.”
“It was a real treat for pediatricians, parents, teachers and day care workers,” said Dr. Cronin. “I think it will be very well received.”
According to the FDA, Bayfortus is a monoclonal antibody intended for a single dose before or during the RSV season.
Its manufacturers, AstraZeneca and Sanofi, recommend the vaccine for infants entering their first RSV season “and children under 24 months of age who remain vulnerable to severe RSV disease during the second RSV season.”
“So it could be children with asthma or a weakened immune system or, of course, with congenital heart problems,” Dr. Cronin explained.
Dr. Cronin believes that the effect of the drug will be huge, and the number of hospitalizations will be reduced.
Now her question is: Will the drug be available before the upcoming RSV season?
“It usually starts to build up in September and we will actually see pretty high RSV numbers up until March and sometimes April,” she said.
According to ABC News, “advisers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet early next month to recommend who should get the drug.”