The Throughput: RSV Vaccine Edition
[ThTh1] Respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, has been one of those murderous viruses we’ve just accepted as a part of life. It’s the number one reason infants and toddlers go the hospital, causing a vicious bronchitis. It also hits the elderly with pneumonia. The global toll is staggering: 64 million infections, millions of hospitalizations and 160,000 deaths a year. This last season was particularly bad as the virus seemed to make up for the last two years of quarantine. Attempts to create a vaccine for RSV have been either ineffective or disastrous, with one candidate in the 1960’s actually making children sicker if they were exposed to the virus.
But all that is about to change.
Pfizers just announced that their RSV vaccine trials have been a stunning success, preventing 83% of infections and 94% of hospitalizations. Like the COVID vaccine, the protection wanes. But that’s fine. The main group that needs protections are infants, who will quickly develop resistance to RSV. The vaccine can be given to pregnant women to protect their babies in the first few months of life. The vaccine is not RNA-based but protein-based, exposing the recipient to some of the viral proteins to induce immunity. Ironically, the vaccine proved hard to trial because, during the COVID pandemic, RSV infections crashed, denying the vaccine a full road test until last year.
Risks appear to be low. Three people out of 20,000 developed auto-immune conditions, which both resolved and may not have been related to the vaccine.
It is possible that as early as late this year, folks could get annual vaccinations against RSV, flu and COVID-19, three of the deadliest and most contagious respiratory viruses out there. If everyone were to participate, the savings in medical costs, sickness and death would be staggering. We live in an age of miracles.
[ThTh3] Maybe something for the Twitter Super Club: a 4000-year old pie recipe.
[ThTh4] Something I’ve never invested much thought in: why does thunder sounds the way it sounds?
[ThTh5] This reminds me of the story of the man who asked Rabbi Akiva to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one leg.
How a book written in 1910 could teach you calculus better than several books of today
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) April 1, 2023
Now go study the commentary.
[ThTh6] So what’s JWST up to these days? Taking amazing picture of Uranus. OK, get it out of your system …