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FDA Approves Antibody to Protect Infants From RSV

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The Food and Drug Administration approved an injectable medication that can safeguard children up to 2 years old from respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. The medication is called nirsevimab and will be sold under the brand name Beyfortus.

With the upcoming school year and fall season, when viruses tend to run rampant and quickly spread through households, parents can find some peace with this new option that can protect their little ones from the potential of serious disease.

RSV can cause severe symptoms and complications in infants and small children, which results in upticks in ER visits and many sick appointments at pediatricians’ offices across the country. The approval of Beyfortus will reduce the impact of RSV on infants, children, families, and health care professionals alike ­— an answer to many questions and prayers.

What is Beyfortus?

Nirsevimab, or Beyfortus, is a monoclonal antibody injection. It can be given as a single injection to newborns and infants before their first RSV season, which typically peaks in the fall and winter months. The FDA also approved a second injection for infants up to 24 months old who remain vulnerable through their second RSV season (the following year).

How Does Beyfortus Work?

While vaccines stimulate the body to make antibodies to defend against pathogens, Beyfortus is a form of passive immunity. It’s a ready-made antibody that can bind to the virus and block it from infecting healthy cells. The immune system won’t need to create anything.

How is Beyfortus Different from Synagis?

Beyfortus will be the second antibody approved to protect small children from RSV. The first, called palivizumab or Synagis, has been used to protect only the most vulnerable babies, such as preemies and those younger than six months old.

Synagis lasts only briefly in the body, so physicians give it once a month, beginning just before RSV season, until the risk has passed. However, Beyfortus appears to be more potent, lasts much longer in the body — four to six months — and is considered safe and effective for all infants.

The Importance of Protecting Babies From RSV

Because babies are small, their airways are small, and a small amount of inflammation caused by RSV can obstruct them, and they can't breathe from the swelling, which makes it difficult to get enough oxygen.

RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization in infants up to 1 year of age. Most babies with RSV need extra oxygen; physicians help support their breathing for two or three days, and they usually recover.

In rare cases, RSV can be fatal. According to the CDC, between 100 and 300 infants die each year. Beyfortus can help prevent the potential of these serious complications, including death, from RSV.

Find Whole-Family Care at AdventHealth

At AdventHealth, our primary care physicians are dedicated to caring for your whole family — in body, mind and spirit.

Contact our primary care experts today if you want to protect your little ones from RSV this coming season. Visit us here to learn more.

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