The Department of Health of the Generalitat plans to inoculate babies with the new vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes bronchiolitis, although the schedule has not yet been established. Although every year there is an epidemic peak of bronchiolitis in Spain, with some 100,000 cases and more than a thousand hospitalizations, experts and administrations highlighted that the wave last November was extraordinary. The pandemic has changed the dates on which RSV appears, cases have risen a lot and the evolution of the epidemic wave from now on with the arrival of cold weather is unknown.

The Minister of Health, Manel Balcells, confirmed this during a visit to Vall d’Aran (Lleida). This is nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody that received the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) a few months ago and is administered at birth. The most acute phase of RSV is usually in autumn and, in the latter, pediatric hospitals experienced weeks with numerous cases, which made it necessary to reinforce and resize hospitalization services. Sources from the Department of Health consulted by EFE have indicated that, although the Ministry of Public Health plans to include this antibody in the vaccination schedule for babies, it has not yet been established when it will be administered.

RSV can be especially serious in children under 2 years of age, since it causes bronchiolitis -inflammation of the smallest tubes in the lungs- that often require hospitalization. It affects seven out of ten children under one year of age and is the main cause of this disease. RSV and the other viruses that cause bronchiolitis also affect adults, but they usually remain a simple cold that does not pass through the nose. In babies, the infection can reach the bronchi and bronchioles (in the lower respiratory tract, closest to the lungs) and can develop its worst symptom: respiratory failure.

The pharmaceutical industry has another 31 vaccines and monoclonals in development against RSV (nine of them in phase III), according to the compilation published by the magazine The Lancet Infectious Diseases last August. A figure of this magnitude reflects the gigantic burden that the pathogen represents for society, mainly in children, but also in people over 60 years of age. But it is also a clear reflection of the enormous business potential that the sector has seen in the fight against this virus. Research published in May in The Lancet It estimated that more than 100,000 children under 60 months died in the world in 2019 due to the virus, the vast majority in low-income countries.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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