It’s no secret the pandemic has been a shot in the arm for Big Pharma. As of late 2021, the People’s Vaccine Alliance estimated that Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna were raking in a combined $65,000 of COVID-19 vaccine profits every single minute.
As the acute danger from coronavirus has mercifully faded, Pfizer has its eyes on the next vaccine blockbuster. On Thursday, the pharma giant announced its RSV candidate proved safe and effective at reducing severe disease in a late-stage trial for adults over 60. Cha-ching!
One Shot to Rule Them All
Short for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, RSV is a common respiratory virus that typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms. In infants and older adults, however, RSV can progress into dangerous pneumonia, resulting in 336,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths per year in the US, according to the CDC.
Same Ol’ Gang: RSV remains one of the few major infectious diseases without a vaccine, but the industry is moving quickly to change that. Johnson & Johnson and Moderna both expect to publish late-stage clinical data for their RSV vaccine candidates in the coming months, and GSK said in June it will apply for regulatory approval of its RSV vaccine after it showed “statistically significant and clinically meaningful efficacy.” Pfizer isn’t far behind:
- Pfizer’s candidate, a combination of two preF proteins optimized for the common RSV A and B strains, demonstrated 85.7% efficacy in preventing severe lower respiratory tract infection in a trial of 37,000 older adults.
- While the other RSV vaccine hopefuls have yet to share data, Pfizer appears well-positioned in an RSV market analysts say could one day top $10 billion.
One-Stop Inoculation: Jason McLellan, professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas, told the Financial Times the new generation of RSV vaccines could one day be combined with flu and Covid jabs to create a “pan-respiratory vaccine.” You may feel a little pinch of optimism.