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Bloomberg School Researchers Test Newly Developed Moderna RSV Vaccine for Older Adults in Clinical Trial in Bangladesh


Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have begun a new vaccine clinical study to determine the safety and efficacy of a new RSV vaccine in adults greater than 60 years of age. ModernaTX Inc developed the vaccine to prevent RSV-associated lower respiratory tract disease in older adults at high risk of developing severe illness.

The Johns Hopkins team is conducting the trial at four sites in urban and rural Bangladesh over the course of two and a half years. The vaccine is being tested globally in a total of 25 countries, including the U.S. This new vaccine may help to protect against the morbidity and mortality of RSV infection, specifically in vulnerable older adult populations. The trial is funded by Moderna.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common respiratory virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most individuals who contract RSV exhibit mild symptoms with a relatively short recovery; however, RSV remains the leading cause of hospitalization in infants worldwide and is also the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children less than 1 year of age in the U.S. RSV also has significant health impacts on immunocompromised individuals and older adults with heart and lung disease who are at greater risk of developing severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to RSV infection.

“Bangladesh has a high burden of RSV compared to other similar settings and may be responsible for almost 3.4 percent of severe respiratory infections among adults 65 years of age and older,” says Abdullah Baqui, DrPH ’90, MPH ’85, the study’s lead investigator, a professor in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School, and the director of the International Center for Maternal and Newborn Health.

Transmission of RSV is common because the virus can spread through contact with an infected individual, a contaminated surface, or with infected respiratory droplets. Although a very common illness, there are no preventative vaccines or specific treatments for RSV infection, resulting in significant health system impacts globally due to the high burden of illness in infants, children, and older adults caused by RSV. “Regular use of an RSV vaccine would likely reduce the burden of disease in vulnerable populations,” says Baqui. The outcomes of this study will help to understand the role of severe acute respiratory infections in older adult populations and inform future implementation of modern treatment interventions.