“This vaccine foresees a revolution in the healthcare system. The results are extremely convincing, last time it was thought that it would reach 40% protection and it was not achieved, and now it has been far exceeded. It will change the course of pediatric diseases, because it will free hospitals from so many serious cases“, said Telam Fernando Polack, scientific director of the Infant Foundation.
What is bronchiolitis
The bronchiolitis is an acute respiratory infection that occurs more often in the autumn and winter months, and It mostly affects children under 1 year old.. It can be caused by various viruses; the most common is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“70% of infants hospitalized in winter are caused by bronchiolitis, flooding hospitals, creating enormous strain on medical services,” Pollack specified and explained that in developing countries “50% die at home, these are silent deaths”.
According to the latest National Epidemiological Bulletin of the Ministry of Health of the nation, in 2022, 173,723 cases of bronchiolitis were reportedwith a cumulative incidence rate of 11,861.8 cases/100,000 inhabitants.
In Argentina, this disease caused by RSV causes about 20,000 hospitalizations each year and about 600 preventable deaths of children under the age of one.
“With a vaccine, there would be a paradigm shift, because 80% of serious cases would be prevented from being hospitalized by vaccination,” Polack explained.
Pregnant women will be vaccinated
This type of vaccine is given to pregnant women, as it is given today against the flu or whooping cough, so that the child is born ready for these diseases thanks to the antibodies provided by the mother.
“It is a vaccine intended to be given to a mother who has had contact with the virus several times during her life, and then passes the antibodies to the baby through the placenta. The baby is protected with its antibodies for up to 6 months. Romina Libster, pediatrician, researcher and vaccine specialist, explained to Télam.
“The most vulnerable moment is the first year, and especially the first 6 months, so what is required is that when it is born it is already protected,” he added.
How did the vaccine trials go?
The clinical trial study enrolled 7,400 pregnant women under the age of 49 from 18 countries through June 2020. Starting in the late second trimester of pregnancy, half of the mothers were randomized to one dose of the vaccine and the other half to one dose. placebo version.
In Argentina, 942 women participated in the study at a military hospital in Buenos Aires, Osecco, and health centers in the provinces of Salta and Tucumán.
Mothers were monitored for up to six months after birth, and babies for up to one year of age. A subgroup of boys will be followed for two years.
Obtaining positive results in the Maternal Vaccination Study for Safety and Efficacy (Matisse), Pfizer said it would submit the data for publication in a scientific journal. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Argentina’s Anmat, among other regulatory bodies, are then expected to approve this procedure in the coming months.
If approved, It will be the first maternal vaccine in the world against the bronchiolitis virus in infants. “It will radically change public health. It protects 80% of serious diseases in the first three months of life, the effect is huge,” Libster pointed out.
“This vaccine has an impact not only on saving lives but also on the reality of millions of families,” the expert concluded.