Regulators have given the green light to a vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common “cold-like” virus that can be fatal to babies and the elderly.
GSK’s Arexvy vaccine will be given to Britons aged 60 and over to prevent serious lung infections after it was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
According to the manufacturer, this is the first time RSV injection has been approved for use in older adults in the UK.
The common infection is responsible for an estimated 175,000 GP visits and 14,000 hospital admissions, and kills around 8,000 elderly people each year.
People with underlying conditions such as diabetes and chronic heart and lung disease tend to be the hardest hit.
Arevxy was recently approved for use in the US and Europe.
Phase III trials of the vaccine, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed it was “well tolerated” and 82.6 percent effective in preventing lower respiratory diseases — such as pneumonia and bronchitis. caused by RSV infection.
And it was found to be 94.1 percent effective at stopping serious infections, even though study participants experienced pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, and joint or muscle pain.
This comes after experts from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) urged ministers to consider a national scheme to vaccinate newborns and those over 75 to take pressure off the NHS.
Neale Belson, GSK Senior Vice President and UK General Manager, said: “Our aim is to help protect adults aged 60 and over in the UK who are at risk of RSV, including those with underlying conditions, who drive the majority.” of RSV hospital admissions.
“This approval for Arexvy means that eligible adults can be vaccinated against RSV disease for the first time, underscoring GSK’s long history of vaccine innovation.”
RSV tends to cause mild, cold-like symptoms from which most people recover within a week or two.
It’s so widespread that most children have the virus by the age of two, according to the NHS.
However, it can become serious in infants and older adults.
In these age groups it is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
Symptoms of RSV include:
- a runny nose
- decreased appetite
In very small infants, the only symptoms of RSV may be irritability, decreased activity, and difficulty breathing.