After the successful use of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology in the control of covid-19, the American company Moderna invested resources to prevent infections by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), through a new vaccine. In the third and final phase of the clinical study with the elderly, the immunizer obtained an effectiveness rate of 83.7% in preventing the disease with symptoms.
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It is worth explaining that “RSV significantly affects the health of older and high-risk adults, especially those with comorbidities,” says Abdullah Baqui, one of the authors of the current study and a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, in a statement. In addition to individuals over 60 years of age, the infection can be serious in infants and children.
In view of the positive results — which, so far, have not been published in any scientific journal — Moderna plans to request authorization for the use of the mRNA vaccine against RSV in the first half of this year. Officially, Moderna’s formula is called mRNA-1345 VSR.
Understand the risk of RSV respiratory infection
In general, RSV is one of the main causes of lower respiratory tract infections and pneumonia, known to be highly contagious and to have a seasonal behavior — cases are more frequent between winter and early spring.
In adults, the infection can cause respiratory distress, pneumonia, bronchitis, hospitalization and, in extreme cases, death, especially when there are comorbidities. In addition to the acute infection, the virus can worsen conditions that the patient already has, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
“In infants and young children, the first infection can cause severe bronchiolitis, which can sometimes be fatal,” details the World Health Organization (WHO). The risk of death is also high for the elderly and immunosuppressed people.
How was Moderna’s mRNA vaccine study done?
In the Phase 3 trial of the vaccine, researchers recruited 37,000 people aged 60 and older from 22 countries, including the US. To ensure the validity of the results, the current study was randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled.
In parallel with the tests with the elderly, Moderna started the first phase of a study with the mRNA vaccine in the pediatric population. At this stage, the idea is to understand whether the formula manages to sensitize the immune system of children, as it happens with the elderly, and whether it is safe.
In addition to RSV and covid-19, the pharmaceutical company is working on a new vaccine ecosystem based on mRNA technology. For example, tests are carried out with formulas to fight cancer and also against HIV.
Source: Moderna and WHO