Coronavirus symptoms 'overlap' with winter flu says Dr Amir
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Researchers from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) say that they are on the verge of a breakthrough in creating the world’s first vaccine against the deadly RSV. Within months, the world could have the data needed for a vaccine that targets the deadly virus that hospitalises and kills thousands of Britons every winter. RSV particularly affects children and the elderly, and currently, there is no vaccine or treatment against it.
The virus is the single most common reason for respiratory hospitalisation in infants, and reinfection remains common in later life.
GSK believes that it is just “months away” from publishing its report that will show that its RSV jab is safe and effective.
While the report is due early this year, the vaccine will likely be approved and put into use by next winter.
Dr Jamila Louahed, the vice-president of vaccine research and development at GSK, told The Telegraph that the pharmaceutical company has been working towards this moment for decades.
She said: “We have to wait for the data to be certain, but I am quite comfortable saying there is a high probability that the vaccine will work.”
The GSK jab works like any traditional vaccine, where a sub-unit protein design mimics the virus itself.
Vaccines of this type are used for many other diseases, including Hepatitis B, and there will be two forms for the two susceptible populations.
The jab will likely be given to pregnant mothers during their third trimester, making sure that the infants will be protected from birth.
This allows for the antibodies generated by the mother to be passed to the child in the womb via cord blood in the umbilical cord and placenta.
Dr Louahed said: “For the baby, the burden of disease starts very early, so as soon as the baby’s born he can be infected with RSV.
“It’s an innovative approach where immunisation of the mother, at a time where they don’t have any risk, can really protect the baby as soon as possible.”
Older populations will be given a dose of the same serum, however, the formula here is enhanced with an adjuvant, which is a compound that will boost the person’s immune system to provide maximum protection.
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Dr Louahed warned that RSV is a “hidden” and “under-recognised” disease.
For nearly six decades, researchers have been working on developing a suitable vaccine for this virus.
Currently, the virus is responsible for about 29,000 paediatric hospitalisations every year, and 14,000 adults.
According to the Oxford Vaccine Group, about 80 young people die every year, along with 8,000 adults.
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