Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Vaccine Research

Leveraging scientific discoveries to deliver a vaccine

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common and pervasive cause of acute respiratory illness. Each year, it is estimated that more than 177,000 older adults are hospitalized and 14,000 of them die in the United States due to RSV.2 The disease burden of RSV in children is also staggering. Globally, there are an estimated 33 million cases of RSV annually in children less than 5 years of age, with about 3 million hospitalized and up to approximately 120,000 dying each year from complications associated with the infection.3

There are currently no immunization options approved for RSV, but Pfizer is committed to developing an RSV vaccine for both adults through direct vaccination and infants through maternal immunization.

We are recruiting participants now for a clinical trial testing an investigational RSV vaccine in adults over 60 years old. Please visit the study website to learn more.

What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common and pervasive cause of acute respiratory illness with no vaccine available to prevent it.1 The virus is highly contagious and usually affect the lungs and airways.1

Who gets RSV infections and how?

RSV infections occur in people of all ages. For adults, the risk of serious infection increases with age and for those with chronic heart or lung disease or a weakened immune system.1

The virus can spread in many ways - through coughs or sneezes from an infected person, virus droplets getting in the eyes, nose, or mouth, touching a surface with the virus on it, and direct contact with the virus (e.g., kissing an infected person)4.

What are the symptoms of RSV infection?

The virus is highly contagious and usually affect the lungs and airways.1 For most adults, infections can feel like a common cold, but for infants, the immunocompromised, and the elderly, the virus is potentially life-threatening.1

Can RSV infections be prevented or treated?

Currently, there is no cure or vaccine for RSV – the medical world is limited to offering only supportive care, such as oxygen and fluids, for those with the illness.[i] Additionally, the only therapeutic available, known as palivizumab, to prevent RSV is limited largely to very prematurely born infants or infants with significant heart or lung disease.4,[ii],[iii] Given that, there is a great medical need to develop a safe and effective vaccine as a preventative option to reduce the incidence and severity of RSV infections. A vaccine for RSV, however, has been an elusive goal for over half a century due to scientific hurdles. With the help of new scientific discoveries, Pfizer has been laser focused on our commitment to develop an RSV vaccine for both adults through direct vaccination and infants through maternal immunization. Together, our adult and maternal vaccine clinical development programs align with our quest to have a profound health impact across all stages of life by combining unrelenting passion, global impact, and an enduring quest for progress to develop new vaccines with the potential to unlock the promise and value that vaccines hold for our world.

What research is being done to help the fight against RSV in adults?

There is a clear and urgent global need to develop a safe and effective vaccine as a preventative option to reduce the incidence and severity of RSV infections.

A vaccine for RSV, however, has been an elusive goal for over half a century due to scientific hurdles.

Pfizer initiated a global Phase 3 study in September 2021 to assess the safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of Pfizer’s bivalent RSV prefusion F subunit vaccine (RSVpreF) for the prevention of RSV in adults 60 years of age and older.

If you are interested in enrolling in this clinical study, please visit the study website to learn more.

Phil Dormitzer, MD, PhD, Vice President & CSO, RNA and Viral Vaccines, and his colleagues discuss how Pfizer is using breakthrough science to develop a vaccine candidate for the treatment of RSV.

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References:

1 Collins PL, Melero JA. Progress in understanding and controlling respiratory syncytial virus: still crazy after all these years. Virus Res. 2011; 162 (1-2): 80-99. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221877/pdf/nihms326799.pdf Accessed 19 April 2018.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Older Adults Are at High Risk for Severe RSV Infection.” Accessed 15 June 2021. Page last reviewed 18 December 2020. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/factsheet-older-adults.html

3 Shi et al. Global, regional, and national disease burden estimates of acute lower respiratory infections due to respiratory syncytial virus in young children in 2015: a systematic review and modelling study. Lancet 2017 Sep 2; 390(10098): 946–958: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5592248/

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “RSV Transmission.” Accessed 22 July 2021. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/transmission.html.

5 Treating Acute Bronchiolitis Associated with RSV. American Family Physician. Accessed 14 July 2021. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0115/p325.html

6 Zhou et al. Hospitalizations Associated With Influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus in the United States, 1993-2008. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2012. 54(10): 1427-1436. https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/54/10/1427/352114

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV): Trends and Surveillance.” Accessed 15 June 2021. Page last reviewed December 18, 2020. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/research/us-surveillance.html