In her closing thoughts, Dr Filer provides insights into the unmet needs in the treatment of RSV.
Wanda Filer, MD, MBA, FAAFP: The Vaccines for Children [VFC] program is vital for millions of American children. It’s going to be vital for them to cover this new monoclonal antibody as soon as it becomes available because it protects children not only in the short term—initially reducing their chance of hospitalization—but also from infection and from becoming a child who has asthma on an ongoing basis. Medicaid needs to cover this immediately and make sure it’s on the VFC program, so we don’t have unequal distribution between children with commercial insurance and children on Medicaid or VFC.
Unmet needs in the management of RSV [respiratory syncytial virus] still have some opportunity for improvement. We don’t have a treatment other than supportive care. We don’t have antivirals. Having an antiviral would be very nice. Fortunately, over these last few years, there’s more testing for RSV. Prepandemic, we weren’t testing for RSV. There was nothing we could do for it.
Now more offices, definitely emergency departments and some urgent care [facilities], are able to test for RSV, flu, and COVID-19. Broader dissemination of the testing platform is 1 need. If your patient is positive for 1 of 3, have a treatment for them. We have treatments for COVID-19 and the flu, but we don’t really have treatment for RSV. That’s another unmet need.
I’m most excited about changing the burden of illness on the American public. I spent 10 years teaching in a residency program, and every February I’d have boatloads of children inpatient who had RSV. Every February was RSV season. Those children and their families won’t have to have that scare, that disruption. I’m in family medicine. I saw a lot of those little ones grow up and have years of wheezing and episodes, much of it because of the damaged airways.
It’s exciting to think that we finally have a way to prevent 60,000 to 160,000 hospitalizations and 6000 to 10,000 deaths in adults. We need to let adults know that this is out there and how serious it is, but the world is going to change around RSV. I’ve been doing this long enough. I’ve seen the world change around other illnesses. I’m thrilled to see that it’s going to happen with RSV.
Transcript edited for clarity.