Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced on Thursday that its vaccine for the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, has begun the third phase of its clinical trials among adults, which comes almost two weeks after the Food Drug Administration (FDA) has fully authorized Pfizer’s SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 vaccine.
Phase 3 of the clinical trials prompted Pfizer to initiate RENOIR (RSV vaccine Efficacy study iN Older adults Immunized against RSV disease), which evaluates the efficacy, immunogenicity and safety of a single dose of its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine candidate in adults ages 60 years or older. RENOIR is expected to test around 30,000 participants over the age of 60 globally, says Pfizer.
RSV, commonly mistaken for COVID-19 due to similarities in symptoms, is a common respiratory virus. According to the CDC, most children likely had an RSV infection by the age of 2. While most adults recover within one to two weeks, RSV can be dangerous for infants and the elderly.
For children younger than 1 year, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Symptoms of RSV usually come in stages and can include, but are not limited to: runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing.
This summer, there has been an unusual uptick in RSV cases. RSV and other respiratory viruses cases usually start to increase in the fall and peak in the winter. According to Pfizer, about 177,000 older adults over the age of 65 contract RSV, and about 14,000 of those cases are fatal, making the vaccine even more crucial given how dangerous it can be for infants and the elderly.
“RSV is a significant cause of severe respiratory disease in older adults, and it can cause disability and death. There is an important unmet medical need for an effective vaccine that can help protect older adults against this highly-contagious disease,” said Dr. Kathrin U. Jansen, senior vice president and head of vaccine research & development at Pfizer, who stressed how important this vaccine can be to older adults. “The start of this Phase 3 study is an important step forward towards our goal of comprehensive immunization against RSV disease, which includes developing a potential first vaccine to help prevent RSV disease in adults as well as the ongoing efforts to help protect infants through maternal immunization, subject to regulatory approval of the candidate vaccine.”
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