New Vaccine Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus Urgently Needed, Says Expert
Milan, Italy – In a recent statement, Pierachille Santus, a professor of Respiratory Diseases at the University of Milan and director of Uoc Luigi Sacco hospital, emphasized the urgent need for vaccinations against respiratory tropism viruses. While these vaccinations are already considered fundamental for people with chronic respiratory diseases, Santus believes they should also be extended to individuals with chronic diseases and the general population.
According to Santus, influenza, cold rhinovirus, and coronavirus have long been the common respiratory viruses we encounter. However, a new virus, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), is now predominant and poses a significant threat. Santus stated, “The respiratory syncytial virus affects both children and adults, causing respiratory diseases that affect both the upper and lower respiratory tract. It has always been present but has never been adequately considered.”
The professor stressed the importance of having a vaccine against RSV, especially for certain categories of patients. While studies have mainly focused on the elderly population, individuals suffering from chronic pathologies with comorbidities are also more susceptible to developing respiratory tract conditions. According to Santus, the vaccine has shown a remarkable effectiveness rate ranging from 85 to 95% in preventing diseases of the upper and lower respiratory tract.
Recently, Santus and his team at the Sacco hospital conducted an evaluation on the epidemiological impact of RSV infection in the adult population. Their findings revealed that the prevalence of RSV infections is comparable to that of the flu. Risk factors for RSV infection include smoking (both active and previous), chronic respiratory and cardiovascular pathologies, and the use of immunosuppressive therapies.
These risk factors also contribute to more severe forms of the disease, including the need for intensive care, mechanical ventilation, and intensive therapeutic support. Santus explained, “History of smoking, elevated blood sugar, and elevated white blood cells are factors that lead to a more serious pathology in these individuals.” He concluded that having a vaccination available for RSV, especially for people with these risk factors, would be crucial for preventing respiratory diseases and reducing the burden on the healthcare system.
As the International Congress of the European Respiratory Society continues in Milan until September 13, experts are discussing the importance of addressing the threat of respiratory viruses and the future development of an effective vaccine against RSV.