Europe OKs 1st one-dose drug to protect babies against RSV

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. give the green light to (something) / gɪv ðə grin laɪt tu / (idiom) – to give permission or approval to do something

    The governor has given the green light to the road expansion project.

  2. contagious / kənˈteɪ dʒəs / (adj.) – able to be passed to another person through physical contact with an infected person or object

    The virus is contagious and infects more than 20,000 people a day.

  3. life-threatening / ˈlaɪfˌθrɛt nɪŋ / (adj.) – capable of causing death

    He was rushed to the emergency room after a life-threatening accident.

  4. inflame / ɪnˈfleɪm / (v.) – to cause a part of the body to be red, swollen, and painful

    Using products with harsh chemicals inflame my skin.

  5. airway / ˈɛərˌweɪ / (n.) – a tube in the body through which air passes to and from the lungs

    The disease causes a person’s airways to be blocked, which leads to breathing difficulties.


Read the text below.

The European Commission has authorized the world’s first one-dose drug against a respiratory virus that sickens millions of babies and children globally every year.

In a statement, drugmakers Sanofi and AstraZeneca said the European Commission had given the green light to nirsevimab, a laboratory-developed antibody designed to protect infants during their first exposure to RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, a highly contagious common infection that infects nearly all babies by age 2.

At the moment, babies at high risk of the disease can be given monthly shots to protect them during RSV season.

In September, the European Medicines Agency recommended that nirsevimab, sold as Beyfortus, be authorized based on advanced research that showed the drug reduced the chances that babies with RSV needed medical attention and appeared to be safe, compared to infants who got a dummy treatment. The drug is given in a single injection.

“We are excited about the opportunity to expand prevention efforts to all infants,” said Silke Mader, co-founder of the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants.

In the U.S., RSV is causing an early surge of infections in children’s hospitals this year. European health officials are warning there could be a similar spike across the continent.

For most healthy people, RSV is a cold-like nuisance. But the virus can be life-threatening for the very young and the elderly. The virus can infect deep in the lungs and in small babies, it can impede breathing by inflaming their tiny airways.

RSV kills about 100,000 babies annually, mostly in developing countries.

Nirsevimab was developed to give newborns and infants immediate protection against RSV through an antibody to prevent infections in their respiratory systems.

In November, Pfizer announced preliminary research showing that a new vaccine given to pregnant women could help protect their babies against RSV, after decades of failure to develop an effective shot.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • RSV kills about 100,000 babies annually, mostly in developing countries. Why do you think this is the case (ex. worse environmental conditions, less effective treatments used)? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, how should Beyfortus be distributed (ex. as a free vaccine for all babies, as a paid service given by hospitals)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What do you think governments should do to ensure all babies are vaccinated against harmful diseases? Discuss.
  • RSV can be life-threatening not only for the young but also for the elderly. Do you think the elderly should be mandatorily vaccinated? Why or why not? Discuss.