11 Jul 2021

Researchers desperate for RSV vaccine trial participants

6:49 pm on 11 July 2021

An infectious disease specialist says any progress made towards a vaccine for RSV could save thousands of babies worldwide.

Checking the temperature of 3 month old baby boy.

File photo. Photo: AFP / VOISIN / Phanie

Children's wards throughout New Zealand are under intense pressure caring for dozens of babies with the potentially fatal illness.

Young people are typically the hardest hit by respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Auckland's Starship Hospital has postponed surgeries to make room for children needing treatment for the flu-like RSV, as the winter illness surges throughout the country.

Visitors have also been restricted to those over 14-years-old to prevent the spread of infection in the hospital.

Otago University paediatrics lecturer Thorsten Stanley is involved in clinical trials for vaccines for pregnant women.

While any potential gains made now would not come in time for the seasonal peak here, they could make a huge difference for babies in the northern hemisphere when their next winter arrives.

"If any of these treatments we're trying out now turns out to be useful, that could save enormous numbers of lives in other countries where no other treatment is available," he said.

Stanley said the researchers were desperate for more people to take part.

The vaccine showed huge potential, and people in the study had a 50/50 chance of being protected or simply being in the placebo group, he said.

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