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Early Research Shows Novavax Vaccine is Effective Against RSV

Early Research Shows Novavax Vaccine is Effective Against RSV

Research conducted by vaccine developer Novavax Inc. indicates a new vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), may be effective in older adults. The vaccine was successful in preventing close to two-thirds of cases of RSV – a common respiratory virus which is especially dangerous for children and seniors.

Currently there is no approved treatment for RSV, which is fatal for an estimated 11,000 to 14,000 people over 60 in the US every year. “It could be a major breakthrough,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Over the next few years, if these results can be shown in a larger study group, Novavax may be the first successful vaccine approved for preventing RSV.

RSV is a seasonal virus, showing up mid-way through autumn and continuing into the spring, which presents itself with little-to-no symptoms in healthy adults. While the virus is dangerous for young children – killing a few hundred children each year – it is especially problematic for the elderly and those who are immunocompromised. These groups are so vulnerable due to the presence of other health problems and a lowered immunity to infection.

Using recombinant DNA technology, the developers were able to build a vaccine that is more readily recognized by the immune system compared to vaccines containing dead RSV, according to Dr. Gregory Glenn, head of research and development at Novavax.

The vaccine was moderately effective in seniors preventing 64% of the most serious symptoms of RSV infection including difficulty breathing and coughing. “Moderate efficacy, which is the 40-60 percent range, could make a big difference,” said Pavia, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah.

Along with additional clinical trials in the elderly, Novavax is conducting a trial of the RSV vaccine in young children as well as expectant mothers. According to Glenn, the hope is that pregnant woman could pass immunity onto their newborns to prevent infection with RSV.