EU approves first vaccine against common respiratory virus

The European Commission has followed the United States in approving the world’s first vaccine for the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, to be used by adults aged 60 and over, its maker GlaxoSmithKline said Wednesday.

The United States approved the drug last month, while the vaccine is the culmination of a decades-long hunt to protect vulnerable people from the common illness.

This authorization for Arexvy means eligible adults can be vaccinated against RSV disease for the first time,” GSK’s chief scientific officer Tony Wood said in a statement.

RSV normally causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can be serious for infants and the elderly, as well as those with weak immune systems and underlying conditions.

In severe cases it can cause pneumonia and bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways deep inside the lungs.

Analysts predict the market could be worth over $10 billion in the next decade, with similar shots from other makers including Pfizer and Moderna expected to follow soon.

Stella Kyriakides, EU commissioner for health and food safety, said she hoped the vaccine would prevent problems encountered last winter.

The European Union’s drug watchdog in April recommended Arexvy’s approval following a trial on 25,000 participants in 17 countries.

The results showed that the vaccine was 83% effective at protecting against RSV-related diseases in people aged 60 years or over, with generally mild side effects, according to the European Medicines Agency.

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