(KIAH) – Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has been on the rise in our area since June. While the virus is affecting people of all ages and arrived earlier than usual in 2022, RSV hits babies and toddlers the hardest.

“The reason for that is these kids have younger lungs, younger chest wall muscles, so they can’t get into the secretions as well as older children,” said David Winter, MD, at Baylor Scott & White Health.

Dr. Winter noted that those 65 and older with chronic lung or heart disease are also susceptible to severe complications from RSV. He added, “and unfortunately, right now, there is no vaccine.”

Yet.

In the U.S., Pfizer announced preliminary research showing that a new vaccine given to pregnant women could help protect their babies against RSV.

Dr. Jason McLellan is a professor of Molecular Biosciences at UT Austin. He is also a vaccine developer who was working on a breakthrough to combat RSV at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center. He is optimistic a vaccine will be ready for very soon.

“The clinical trials have been going on for years, and the phase three results are coming out now. I think it’s the expectation is that we will have licensed RSV vaccine sometime next year in 2023, probably in time for the peak season,” said Dr. Jason McLellan/Professor of Molecular Biosciences, UT Austin.

Dr. White says this is possible because of the impressive progress science has made in the last decade where scientists can sequence the DNA of any virus.

“And that’s the blueprint of that virus. So when they look at that they can tell ways to block it to keep it from being so infectious. They do that very rapidly. They couldn’t do that years ago. But this is science in progress right now.”

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 Friday, 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.