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Moderna wants to use a vaccine to fight the RSV virus, which is particularly dangerous for babies and young children. © Nicolas Armer/dpa

RSV has recently placed a particularly heavy burden on children’s hospitals. Moderna is now announcing data on a vaccine against the virus, but initially this is only intended for people over the age of 60.

Cambridge/Munich – The American company Moderna intends to apply for approval of an RSV vaccine for adults over 60 before the end of the first half of the year.

The vaccine, called “mRNA-1345,” has shown “promising results” in the Phase 3 study required for approval, the company announced Tuesday night. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes respiratory diseases. The Robert Koch Institute counts among patients at risk, for example, premature babies and children with pre-existing lung diseases, as well as people with immunodeficiencies or weakened immune systems.

Reduced risk of serious illness

“We found that use of the vaccine reduced the risk of severe confirmed RSV disease by almost 84 percent,” said Paul Burton, head of medicine at Moderna, the German Press Agency. Vaccine efficacy against RSV-related diseases of the lower respiratory tract with two or more symptoms was examined. The security profile was also very good. According to the company, the study involved some 37,000 people aged 60 and over from 22 countries.

The so-called messenger RNA (messenger ribonucleic acid, mRNA) became known to a wide public through its use in corona vaccines. The mRNA from the vaccines delivers part of the genetic information of the virus to human cells. With this information, they produce a pathogen protein against which the organism develops defense reactions. On subsequent contact with the pathogen, the immune system recognizes the protein and can fight the virus more quickly and specifically.

RSV particularly dangerous for infants and young children

“In this vaccine, we encapsulate this messenger RNA in the same lipid that we use for the Covid vaccine, which is used in hundreds of millions of people around the world,” Burton said.

The developed vaccine is initially intended for people 60 years of age or older. However, RSV can also be particularly dangerous for infants and young children. Moderna is also looking into this, Burton said. “We have five other programs underway for young children, pregnant mothers, and other populations. We will also publish this data in the coming months.”

RSV had placed a heavy burden on children’s hospitals in Germany and other countries this season. The combination of many cases of influenza, corona and RSV also posed challenges for the healthcare system. The goal is to combine different vaccines against respiratory viruses, such as corona and RSV, Burton said. However, such studies are more difficult to perform and require more time. “I think in the next few years we should be able to develop these combination vaccines that would really offer very comprehensive public health protection.”

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