Published: Feb 2024

RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, the disease infects many infants in the first 2 years of life and frequently reinfects older children and adults. For most people, RSV infection causes a mild respiratory illness, however, babies under one year of age and the elderly are at the greatest risk of hospitalisation with more severe RSV. In infants, it is the most common cause of Bronchiolitis, and in older, at-risk adults, it can cause pneumonia or even death.

Who is more at risk?

  • Children under 2 years with immunodeficiency, congenital heart or lung disease.
  • Adults over 60 years especially those with
    • chronic lung or heart disease
    • cancer treatments
    • organ transplant
    • immunocompromised

RSV illness in the UK has a significant impact during winter months and usually declines by March. In recent years however, there has been unseasonal RSV activity in the summer. There are currently no specific treatments for RSV infection and the management is purely supportive such as oxygen supplementation and feeding support for infants.

What can be done?

For adults: In 2023, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the vaccine, Arexvy, for the prevention of lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) caused by RSV in adults 60 years and older – the first time an RSV vaccine for older adults has been authorised for use in the UK. The vaccine is already approved for the US and Europe and alternative vaccines are expected to be considered for approval.

The vaccine is a single dose, upper arm injection and offers effective prevention against lung infections caused by RSV for two winter seasons,. this is available to adults over 60 years old.

For Infants: There is currently no infant immunisation program available for RSV in the UK. Nirsevimab (a single dose long-acting antibody) is designed to protect infants born during or entering their first RSV season and was approved for use in the UK by the MHRA in November 2022. A larger study is now underway (HARMONIE) to support the implementation of the jab into a national UK immunisation programme. At Concierge Medical we are closely monitoring these developments so that we can make this vaccine available to your little ones as soon as they become available.

While RSV can be dangerous, not all infections lead to severe illness. Many individuals, including older children and healthy adults, experience mild symptoms similar to the common cold and recover without complications. As with all viruses it is crucial to take precautions to prevent the spread, especially to protect vulnerable people, do seek medical medical attention if severe symptoms develop, particularly in infants, the elderly, or individuals with underlying health conditions.

If you would like to know more about the virus or just have a general chat about your health, please get in touch with your Concierge Medical private GP.

General Enquiries 01451 600900