UCI Health pediatrician leads efforts to test RSV vaccine
November 01, 2022
IN THE NEWS: A UCI Health pediatric infectious disease expert describes research underway on a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common respiratory virus little seen during the pandemic that is sending severely ill young children to hospitals in Orange County and across the nation.
The recent record number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations of small children for RSV prompted the Orange County Health Care Agency this week to issue an emergency health declaration.
No vaccine to protect against RSV is currently available, but a group led by UCI Health pediatrician Dr. Coleen K. Cunningham, professor and chair of the UCI School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, has been helping to test a vaccine in early-phase national clinical trials.
Cunningham, a nationally regarded expert in pediatric infectious diseases who also serves as senior vice president and pediatrician-in-chief for Children's Health of Orange County (CHOC), recently spoke to the New York Times about her team's work testing a nasal-drop vaccine that contains a weakened version of the virus for use in children from 6 months to 2 years of age.
“The advantage of that is, it’s not a shot, so you don’t have to worry about needles,” Cunningham said of the vaccine developed by National Institutes of Health researchers.
It also delivers the vaccine to the nasal passage where the virus enters the body, potentially making it more effective at preventing infection. She said the results of the study are promising.