Preventing RSV in infants

HPP developed a framework and associated resources to support the implementation of innovative strategies to protect all infants from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Context

RSV is a common virus that can cause severe illness in young children. Innovative immunisation strategies have recently been approved to protect infants against RSV, and their implementation needs to be carefully prepared.

RSV is the leading cause of hospitalisations for infants in their first year of life, with over 85% of hospitalisations occurring in otherwise healthy infants who were born at term. It is a seasonal virus that peaks during the winter months in many parts of the world, putting significant pressure on health systems.

There are no treatments for RSV, so prevention is key to protecting infants from severe illness. There are new options available for RSV prevention in infants, including an immunisation given during pregnancy, a short-acting monoclonal antibody (mAb) administered monthly to infants at risk of severe disease, and a long-acting mAb designed for all infants entering their first RSV season.

Careful planning is required to ensure health systems are ready to implement immunisation strategies for RSV in a way that maximises protection for all infants. And, as mAbs represent an innovative approach to RSV prevention, successful implementation may require adaptations to achieve this. The long-acting mAb has already been implemented in countries including France, Spain and the US, and the lessons learnt from these programmes can be used to inform policymakers and health system planners in other countries.

What we’ve achieved

HPP convened and worked with an expert Steering Committee to develop a range of resources to support the implementation of innovative strategies for RSV prevention, with a particular focus on the long-acting mAb. We carried out extensive desk research and interviewed stakeholders from Spain, France and the US. Drawing on our research, we produced an implementation framework that other countries can use to guide their own long-acting mAb immunisation programmes.

To further promote and share the key lessons from implementing long-acting mAbs in Spain, France and the US, we produced an infographic with examples of best practice from the three countries. We also produced a series of short videos featuring experts from each country discussing the experience of implementing the long-acting mAb during the 2023/24 RSV season, and lessons that could be helpful for other countries.

These resources will be followed later in 2024 by the publication of a policy report on RSV prevention in infants that will set out the policy actions needed to ensure health systems are ready to implement and deliver innovative strategies. This report will be launched via a webinar on health system readiness for RSV prevention.

Key partners and stakeholders

We consulted with the following stakeholders, who formed an expert Steering Committee:

  • Elena Bozzola, National Councillor, Italian Paediatric Society, Italy
  • Michelle Fiscus, Chief Medical Officer, Association of Immunization Managers, US
  • Jaime Pérez Martín, Head, Prevention and Health Protection Service, Murcia Health Department, Spain
  • Manuel Sanchez-Luna, Head of Neonatology, Gregorio Marañón General University Hospital, Spain
  • Catherine Weil-Olivier, Honorary Professor of Paediatrics, Paris Cité University, France
  • Martin Wetzke, Paediatrician, Department of Paediatric Pulmonology, Allergology and Neonatology, Hannover Medical School, Germany

Project funding

This project was initiated and funded by Sanofi. All outputs are non-promotional and evidence based. HPP retains editorial control on behalf of the project Steering Committee.

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