A new vaccine that protects babies against a common and potentially dangerous winter virus has now been approved by the UK regulator.
The single shot of Nirsevimab helps prevent babies from getting serious respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, and lasts about six months.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) spreads easily through coughing and sneezing, and almost all children have had it by the time they are two years old.
In older children and adults, RSV can cause a cough or cold, but in young children it can cause bronchiolitis and is the main reason children under five need hospitalization.
Mother Christine Burlison had to call an ambulance for her newborn baby Aria after contracting the virus.
Not long after she was born and first came home, Aria started coughing and sneezing and at first it seemed like a normal cold. But then Aria started growling as she breathed, and the next day she went limp.
Mrs. Burlison told the UKTN it was “really distressing” and she had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance.
“I had never heard of RSV – it’s not part of prenatal training, but I knew something wasn’t right,” she said.
Aria was given oxygen at the hospital and had to stay there for a week to recover.
Closures and social distancing restrictions helped prevent the spread of disease, but now young children have little immunity.
About 29,000 babies go to hospital for RSV treatment each year, and many have no previous health problems.
A new study is now examining whether Nirsevimab, which is produced by Sanofi and AstraZeneca, should be offered on the NHS.
Dr. Simon Drysdale, an infectious diseases consultant pediatrician at London’s St George’s Hospital and co-leader of the study, said the UKTN the treatment could eventually be given at birth or during routine immunizations at two months.
What is RSV?
RSV is a virus that usually causes only mild coughs and colds, with most people recovering in about a week or two.
However, in very young children and older adults, it can cause serious lung problems such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
That infection with RSV usually shows symptoms within four to six days, and symptoms may include runny nose, loss of appetite, sneezing, coughing, fever, and wheezing.