First respiratory syncytial virus vaccine for older adults approved in SG

by | May 31, 2024

The virus could potentially wreak havoc among older adults aged 60 years or over and with an underlying medical condition.


A representation of the RSV virus.

Biopharma company GSK’s Arexvy has been approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore for active immunisation for the prevention of lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in individuals 60 years of age and older. It is the first respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine in the world and the first RSV vaccine approved in the country.

In 2019, RSV infection accounted for an estimated 5.2 million cases of acute respiratory infection, 470,000 hospitalisations and 33,000 in-hospital deaths among adults 60 years of age or over in industrialised countries. In a four-year study in Singapore, one out of every 20 older adults aged 65 years or over has tested positive for RSV.

RSV is a common, contagious virus that affects the lungs and respiratory airways. The virus can affect all ages and could be often similar to other acute respiratory infections, like colds or influenza, including a blocked nose, cough, fatigue, fever, sore throat, runny nose, body aches and headache, and a test is needed to confirm a diagnosis. But the impact of RSV in those over 60 years of age is significant.

RSV among older adults aged 60 years or over and with an underlying medical condition could even be more serious. They have a greater risk of being hospitalised from RSV compared to those without these conditions. In this group, RSV can cause lower respiratory tract disease, which may lead to exacerbation of these underlying diseases, hospitalisation and death.

Data from the AReSVi-006 Phase III trial showed efficacy of 94.6 percent for Arexvy in preventing LRTD caused by RSV in older adults aged 60 years or over and with at least one underlying medical condition of interest, that includes cardiorespiratory and endocrine-metabolic (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure, among others). Overall, in adults aged 60 years or over, the vaccine demonstrated high vaccine efficacy of 82.6 percent against LRTD caused by RSV.

Dr Stephanie Cinthu Stephen Ambrose, country medical director, GSK Singapore, said: “As we move towards being a ‘super-aged’ society, there is a clearer need to prioritise prevention of infectious diseases, like RSV, and keep our older adults healthy as they enjoy their golden years.”

So besides the vaccination, other typical ways to prevent the RSV infection, according to GSK, include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who have cold-like symptoms.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that people frequently touch, such as doorknobs.


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