A Frequently Ignored Virus

Nov, 2022 - By SMI

A Frequently Ignored Virus

RSV, also known as the respiratory syncytial virus (sin-SISH-uhl), is a seasonal virus that, despite its apparent recent notoriety, has long been a serious threat to young children.

Almost everyone contracts the infection during childhood, and the majority only have minor respiratory illnesses. However, it can become life-threatening for a tiny percentage of kids, especially those under the age of five. RSV kills approximately 100,000 children under the age of five each year and sends over 3.6 million people globally to the hospital. Infants younger than six months old and children from lower-income nations die the most frequently.

RSV is one of the top reasons for hospitalisation in children under five in the US. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average RSV season causes between 58,000 and 80,000 children under the age of 5 to visit hospitals and deaths between 100 and 300 people.

RSV prevention and treatment have been the focus of decades of research. However, an ominous cloud that hung over the field for years prevented advancement. It developed during the 1960s when studies on an RSV vaccination started. Heat and a formaldehyde (formalin) solution were employed in the experimental vaccine's construction as a conventional treatment at the time to inactivate the virus and "fix" or stabilise its proteins. As a result, the formalin-inactivated viral vaccine could provide the immune system a whole virion that was unable to infect cells but had all of its antigenic components virtually frozen in place so that immune cells could train to target specific components.

The majority of people who catch the virus only experience mild respiratory ailments while they are children. For a small number of children, particularly those under the age of five, it can become life-threatening.

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