Science and Health

FDA will recommend Pfizer RSV vaccine for those over 60

In a narrow vote, an advisory committee decided to recommend an historic RSV vaccine, citing efficacy as the reason.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV

A U.S. Federal Drug Administration panel of advisers narrowly voted on Tuesday to recommend Pfizer's RSV vaccine for people over age 60.

The vaccine is now closer to becoming one of the first approved RSV vaccines in the world. 

Within the health regulator's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, made up of what the FDA calls independent outside advisers, there was one abstention as the voting rested at 7-4.

The panel's recommendation of the shot was based on efficacy. Pfizer says the vaccine is a single dose jab that was shown in trials to lower risk of illness from RSV by at much as 86%. 

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota noted that the narrow tally among advisory members came as concerns were expressed that the vote felt rushed. Some requested more data with the decision coming directly after a particularly bad RSV season. 

The virus causes mild respiratory disease and can be severe in older people and infants. 

The CDC estimates that between 60,000 and 160,000 adults in the U.S. are hospitalized for symptoms of RSV each year, causing 6,000 to 10,000 documented deaths, the health agency says

The advisory committee is expected to meet again on Wednesday to evaluate a similar RSV vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline.