Bronchiolitis: what you need to know about the preventive treatment available today for babies

D-Day. Starting this Friday, for the first time, a preventive treatment for bronchiolitis is offered to all babies aged one year or less. Beyfortus, developed by the French group Sanofi and its British partner AstraZeneca, is an antibody which is administered in a single injection.

It was awaited by many pediatricians, given the heavy burden that bronchiolitis represents each year in their services (more than 26,000 hospitalizations of children last season). Here’s what you need to know.

How does this treatment work?

The aim is to provide the toddler’s body with a monoclonal antibody which will reduce the risks in the event of infection by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), responsible for the majority of bronchiolitis. A vaccine, on the other hand, trains the body to produce antibodies. But in both cases, the method of administration is the same: an injection, preferably in the thigh in the case of Beyfortus.

How effective is it?

According to the results of clinical trials, one dose of Beyfortus reduces the risk of hospitalization for bronchiolitis by approximately 80%. “From what we see in the trials, it seems very effective,” rejoiced Christèle Gras Le Guen, former president of the French Pediatric Society, this summer.

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The High Authority for Health (HAS) specifies that “the maximum concentration of antibodies is reached on the 6th day after injection, with an observed duration of protection of at least five months”. But she has already requested other data, because those available do not make it possible to “support a possible impact of Beyfortus” on the duration of hospitalization, transfer to the intensive care unit or intensive care unit, or even on mortality.

When to administer it?

The HAS recommends not waiting for the start of the annual epidemic, generally in October or November, for all newborns and infants born since February 6. This date corresponds to that of the end of the epidemic last season. The injection can be given by a doctor or nurse. For babies born from this Friday, it should preferably take place in the maternity ward, so as not to waste time.

Parents will not have to pay anything because the treatment is fully covered, ures the Ministry of Health. But they must obviously give their agreement, after having received “clear information”, indicates the HAS. The body finally warns that Beyfortus “does not replace the application of barrier measures (hand washing, ventilation of rooms, wearing a mask in the event of a cold, etc.), which are essential to prevent infection”.

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