RSV (RESPIRATORY SYNCYTIAL VIRUS ) is a common respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe illness, primarily in young children and older adults. RSV infections occur during the fall, winter, and early spring months.
How Serious is RSV Virus?
RSV can be serious virus, particularly for certain groups of people who are at higher risk for severe illness. These include infants, young children, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune system or underlying medical conditions such as lung or heart disease.
In healthy adults and older children, RSV causes mild cold like symptoms such as runny nose, cough and fever. However, in young infants, RSV can cause more severe symptoms such as wheezing, difficulty breathing and dehydration. in some cases, RSV infection can lead to Pneumonia or Bronchiolitis, which can be life threatening.
While most RSV infections are mild and resolve on their own, severe cases may require hospitalization and supportive care such as oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation. In rare cases RSV infection can lead to long term respiratory problems such as asthma.
What Are The First Signs Of RSV?
- Runny Nose
- Rapid Breathing
- Loss of Appetite
How Do People Get RSV Virus?
RSV is highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person.The virus is transmitted through respiratory secretions such as saliva, mucus, or nasal secretions. RSV can also survive on surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs for several hours and can be spread when someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes.
RSV is most commonly spread in crowded environment such as daycare centers, schools and nursing homes.
Is RSV A Corona Virus
No, RSV is not a coronavirus. It is a separate virus that belongs to the family Paramyxoviridae, whereas coronavirus belongs to the family Coronaviridae.
Although RSV and coronavirus can cause similar respiratory symptoms, they are different viruses with distinct genetic and structural characteristics. RSV primarily affects young children and older adults, while coronavirus such as SARS-COV-2(the virus that causes covid-19)can affect people of all ages.
FDA Approves World's First RSV Vaccine For Older Adults
The US approved the world’s first RSV vaccine that is meant for older adults. The vaccine is for adults aged 60 and over and has been shown in clinical trails to reduce the risk of symptomatic illness by 83% and severe illness by 94%. The RSV vaccine known as Arexvy is a protein-based vaccine. This means that it contains a harmless version of a protein found on the outside of the virus that causes RSV.The protein has been modified to be locked into a specific shape, which trains the immune system to recognize and block the virus before it can enter cells.
Arexvy also contains an advent, which is an ingredient that helps to boost the immune system response to the vaccine. Clinical trails have shown that Arexvy is highly effective at preventing lower respiratory track disease caused by RSV in older adults.
Arexvy is currently approved for use in people aged 60 and above who are at risk of severe illness due to declining immune responses.However, GSK is conducting a clinical trail to test the vaccine in people as young as 50.
Common Side Effects
Common side effects of Arexvy include pain at the injection site,, Fatigue , Muscle Pain, Headache, and Joint Stiffness. There were also some more serious side effects observed in clinical trails. Ten cases of Atrial Fibrillation (a heart condition) were observed in participants who received the vaccine, compared with four cases in the placebo group. One case of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder was also observed in a participant who received the vaccine.
The FDA is requiring GSK to study the potential risks of these side effects as the vaccine goes into wider use. Additionally, other companies such as Pfizer, Moderna and Bavarian Nordic are also developing RSV vaccine.
Other RSV Vaccines In Development And Under Review
- Sanofi’s monoclonal antibody for infants and toddlers:- Sanofi’s and AstraZeneca have developed a monoclonal antibody called nirsevimab, which is designed to prevent RSV lower respiratory tract disease in newborns and infants during theirfirst RSV season. If approved, it would become the second monoclonal antibody available for infants.
- Pfizer’s RSV vaccine for pregnant ladies:- Pfizer has developed a vaccine called RSVpreF, specially for pregnant ladies. The vaccine in undergoing review by the FDA, and approved, it would help protect infants from severe RSV disease during the first six months.
Overall, there are multiple RSV vaccines and treatments being evaluated by regulatory agencies.The development of these vaccines represents significant progress in RSV related illnesses and reducing their impact on vulnerable population.