Preventing Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Overview of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

RSV is a virus that causes acute low respiratory tract infections (infections of the lungs and airways), such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis (inflammation of the airways). RSV infection is especially prominent among infants and the older generation. Globally, RSV affects an estimated 64 million people and causes 160,000 deaths each year. Additionally, RSV is the most common cause of hospitalization for Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI) in children younger than five years of age, and, sadly, one causes nearly 60,000 deaths every year, of which 45% occur in infants who are less than 6-month old).

While the significant RSV global public health burden is clear, there is currently no preventative option available to protect all babies from the virus. The only existing preventative measure for RSV (known as Palivizumab) has been developed exclusively for premature infants or for those having other underlying lung or heart conditions, and typically limited in its distribution to high resource settings. It is important to note that vast majority of RSV-hospitalized infants (up to 80%) are otherwise healthy. In addition, there are no treatments against RSV, and patients have to overcome the disease with time and supportive care such as through the use of ventilators (providing only symptomatic relief). Healthcare systems in the Asia-Pacific must address the rising threat of RSV, which remains a serious unmet medical need.

Problem statements of Respiratory Syncytial Virus 

Problem statement #1: Low awareness and education

According to a survey conducted by International Medical Products, 70% of specialty healthcare providers agree that parents of their younger patients have a low awareness of RSV. Parents commonly mistake RSV for the common cold. The lack of proper RSV awareness and eucation among parents prevents them from asking doctors about preventive treatments, which are proven to be a more effective and cost-friendly solution than allowing for the virus to grow more severe.

  • What types of programs or solutions could be put in place to improve the level of RSV education among parents?
  • How will this drive them toward activating discussions with healthcare providers and other stakeholders in terms of adopting preventative treatments?

Problem statement #2: Accessibility of preventative measures

The level of unmet need to address the RSV challenge is very high, particularly in developing countries such as India and China, where there are currently no preventive or therapeutic options widely available to populations.

  • What are the key barriers you see toward providing RSV preventative treatments at scale in the Asia-Pacific, including to the hard-to-reach communities?
  • What are the creative solutions that could be deployed to improve access to RSV preventative treatments, and how will such programs be funded?

According to WHO, around 60 potential vaccines are in development for RSV and are expected to be available in the market in the next five years.

  • When the solutions are available, how can we ensure that RSV options will be included in national formularies (such as National Immunization Schedule) in the Asia-Pacific, similar to other leading infectious disease categories? Where is there opportunity to join forces with other similar immunization programs for implementation at scale?

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Thematic areas

Increasing life course immunisation

Enhancing diabetes management

Preventing Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Prioritising rare disease