Virginia hospitals hopeful RSV antibody could prevent illness this season
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - We’re likely just months away from the rollout of a new antibody to protect little ones from RSV as the Food and Drug Administration approves the injection.
It’s not technically a vaccine, but experts say it will offer a new line of protection for newborns ahead of the RSV season.
According to a Virginia doctor, if approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new antibody could be a game changer for families and hospitals across the commonwealth.
Doctor Steven Zeichner, a pediatrics professor at UVA Health, says it’s something they’ve been waiting on for the past 50 to 60 years.
“It was fast-tracked as a revolutionary drug by the FDA. So, I think everybody has recognized that this could be really a potentially very significant improvement for babies,” Zeichner said.
On Monday, July 17, the FDA unanimously approved this new tool. Dr. Zeichner says it’s not a vaccine because it doesn’t give a killed or a piece of an organism to a patient in hopes of teaching that patient’s immune system how to make antibodies against that virus.
“This is an antibody that’s already made in the factory. So, it bypasses the step of teaching your body how to make it,” Dr. Zeichner said.
This comes after a vaccine for adults was approved in June. Doctors are hopeful these new resources will prevent Virginia hospitals from being hit with a “tripledemic” again.
“We certainly know that last year, we saw a confluence of RSV cases, as well as flu cases, and COVID really sort of co-occurring as we got into the fall and winter of 2022,” Julian Walker with Virginia Hospitals and Healthcare said. “And so that put a significant strain on hospitals.”
Doctors say RSV hits kids the hardest, and the goal with this antibody would be to give it to infants in the fall to protect them with the season ahead best. Dr. Zeichner says the dosage would depend on a child’s size.
“There are maybe almost half a million babies a year who get RSV and get sick enough to see somebody in the health care system,” Dr. Zeichner said. “I have in my mind a couple of babies who had awful RSV. And to think that that’s gone would be just amazing.”
Dr. Zeichner says there should not be any hurdles for this antibody with the rest of the approval process, and he anticipates it should be ready for use this fall, before the next RSV season.
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