Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was mainly thought of as a pediatric disease for several decades. In the past 2 decades, however, health care professionals have learned that when persons aged ≥60 years have RSV, especially those with underlying conditions such as cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this recurrent infection can be as severe as influenza each season, according to William Schaffner, MD, a well-known infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
"Let me say it again, it can be as severe in the older population as is influenza," said Schaffner in a recent interview with Patient Care Online. "So it is a remaining great seasonal respiratory virus, and to have a vaccine now available that can mitigate the impact of this virus in this very vulnerable population is something that's very exciting."
The vaccine Dr Schaffner was referring to is Arexvy™ (GSK), the first RSV vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The novel vaccine was approved May 3, 2023, for the prevention of lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in adults aged ≥60 years. In the conversation below, Dr Schaffner discusses the research behind the FDA’s decision.