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New RSV treatment: There aren't enough doses to meet the demand, Tri-State doctors speak about what's next

RSV Vaccines
Posted at 9:13 AM, Oct 24, 2023

CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. — The rollout of the new RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) monoclonal antibody treatment has hit a snag. And doctors across the country say they don’t have enough doses to meet demand.

It's called Beyfortus (nirsevimab-alip). And there’s been a wait list for it at the Pediatric Associates of Northern Kentucky for a couple weeks now as more parents ask for the shot that helps to prevent severe illness in young children.

"RSV causes a lot of winter illness in young kids especially like wheezing and trouble breathing," said Dr. Charlie Cavallo with the Crestview Hills office. "The young kids birth to three months, especially are at risk of being hospitalized. And so, what this product is, is giving them antibody against RSV."

This isn't the first RSV treatment. Dr. Cavallo said pediatricians have traditionally been using a more restricted treatment for premature infants.

"This (new) one is for the general population... and we look at kids birth to about eight months," he said.

RSV can be terrifying for both parents and infants, according to Dr. Cavallo.

"They have spells where they stop breathing, or don't breathe for 10 or 20 seconds and they can kind of change colors," he said. "But most kids (get) really profound congestion and nasal discharge cough, then four or five days in, sometimes they start having wheezing and labored breathing.

The FDA approved the new treatment a few months ago and it's just now starting to become available in our area.

Dr. Juanita Mora, a spokesperson with the American Lung Association, said 100% of children will contract RSV by age two, which is why this treatment is so important, especially for those with an immature immune system.

"It causes 1.5 million outpatient visits a year, 80,000 hospitalizations a year in kids less than five years of age and 300 deaths in kids less than five years of age," said Mora.

Due to the increased demand as the rollout continues, on Monday the CDC sent an emergency advisement for doctors asking them to prioritize available doses for infants at the highest risk for severe RSV disease. This includes young infants less than 6 months old and infants with underlying conditions that place them at highest risk for severe RSV disease.