French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi and the Swedish-British group AstraZeneca have developed a new vaccine known as “Beyfortus”, the first in the world to fight against bronchiolitis caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), one of the main diseases, alongside pneumonia and laryngitis, to threaten children’s lives. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the green light for its use on November 4, 2022. The European Commission has since authorized the two pharmaceutical businesses to market their vaccine on a mass scale from autumn 2023.

AstraZeneca handled the development and manufacturing of the vaccine and Sanofi was responsible for marketing the new product. The French pharmaceutical giant paid €585 million (this consisted of an initial sum of €120 million and then milestone payments totaling €465 million). The drug has received an encouraging acknowledgement from the international scientific community. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed it an “innovative medicine” and the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) called it a “promising innovative medicine”, while the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) labelled it a “drug for priority development.”

Designed to be preventive in nature, the “Beyfortus” vaccine can be administered to all newborns. A single dose is sufficient to immunize them, as opposed to its predecessor Synagis, which could only be given to premature or at-risk children and in several doses.

According to the National Library of Medicine, 33 million children under the age of five worldwide were infected with bronchiolitis in 2019. In France, every winter 30% of infants under two years old, or 480,000 children, contract the disease. While it can be mild, 2 to 3% of infants under the age of one end up in hospital and nearly 1% of them die from this illness. The new vaccine will therefore reverse this trend.

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