The US drug regulatory agency, the FDA, has approved the first vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes bronchiolitis and tens of thousands of deaths each year. The vaccine, called Arexvy and developed by British pharmaceutical giant GSK, has been licensed for use in adults over the age of 60. RSV is a highly contagious and widespread virus that affects both adults and children, especially during the winter. According to US health authorities, the virus kills between 6,000 and 10,000 people over the age of 65 each year in the United States.
The Arexvy vaccine has been shown to be effective in preventing lower respiratory tract infections with 83% effectiveness. Reported side effects were mainly fatigue, muscle pain, and headaches. However, one participant in a smaller study developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological condition, nine days after receiving the vaccine, so the FDA has asked GSK to continue conducting studies to monitor this risk.
Other pharmaceutical groups, such as Pfizer and Moderna, are also developing RSV vaccines for the elderly. Pfizer expects to receive a decision from the FDA in May. GSK has reported that its vaccine will be available in the next epidemic season this year. The approval of GSK’s vaccine is based on a clinical trial with about 25,000 participants, half of whom received the vaccine and half a placebo.
In conclusion, the approval of the first vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus is a significant achievement in the prevention of a disease that can be deadly, especially for the elderly. GSK’s Arexvy vaccine has been shown to be effective in preventing lower respiratory tract infections, although studies must continue to be conducted to monitor potential side effects. The approval of this vaccine may be the start of a race among several pharmaceutical groups to conquer a promising market.
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