Infantile bronchiolitis: the first vaccine to protect babies, soon to be available?

Bronchiolitis is a disease that comes back every winter. Caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), it can lead to pulmonary complications in fragile people, but also in babies. 90% of babies get it during their first two years of life, and it is the second leading cause of infant death, reports the newspaper The echoes. However, there is currently no vaccine that would achieve broad vaccination coverage. Currently, only AstraZeneca’s Synagis, a monoclonal antibody, is available. Intended for premature babies whose pulmonary system is not yet mature, it is very expensive and requires five injections, without being highly effective. However, things could soon change.

A vaccine against bronchiolitis in infants

Several major pharmaceutical companies are working to develop a vaccine against bronchiolitis. While some want to target the elderly and/or frail, others want to create an injection for babies. Sanofi and AstraZeneca have joined forces, and they are the most advanced in this area, according to information from the Echoessince they have applied for marketing authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the response to which is expected between September and November 2022, and they are preparing to file one from the US health authorities.

The product is called Nirsevimab, and it is an injection of monoclonal antibodies. Clearly, we inject antibodies directly into the body, which will not manufacture them itself. In the words of our colleagues, this method “makes sense for babies, because their immune system is not yet capable of it”. The vaccine in question has been tested on 2,350 infants and is 79.5% effective against severe forms of the disease that require medical treatment.

When will this bronchiolitis vaccine be available?

We will have to wait a little longer before we can vaccinate infants against bronchiolitis. Even if the EMA authorizes the marketing of Nirsevimab in the fall, it will not be available in France this winter, explains RTL. It will then be necessary to obtain the authorization of the French health authorities, who will in turn study the clinical data before giving, or not, their green light. According to the radio, this process usually takes about a year, and then the price at which the vaccine will be sold must be negotiated. Sanofi therefore hopes that the first injections can take place during the winter of 2023.

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