RSV vaccine race heats up as J&J reports 80% efficacy

Johnson & Johnson on Oct. 2 released data on its investigational respiratory syncytial virus vaccine, saying it was highly effective in protecting against lower respiratory tract disease in adults ages 65 and older during a phase 2 trial.

The trial involved 5,782 participants ages 65 and older who were randomized to receive the vaccine candidate or a placebo. The vaccine was generally well-tolerated in participants.

Johnson & Johnson said it met its primary and secondary endpoints for the trial, as the vaccine demonstrated 80 percent efficacy in preventing RSV-associated lower respiratory tract disease and 70 percent efficacy in preventing any symptomatic RSV-associated acute respiratory infection. 

The drugmaker has initiated a phase 3 study testing the vaccine, which will involve about 23,000 participants ages 60 and older across North America and some countries in Europe, Asia and the Southern Hemisphere.

There is no vaccine or broadly available antiviral treatment for RSV, a highly contagious and potentially fatal respiratory virus affecting more than 64 million people worldwide in a typical year, according to the National Institutes of Health

Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline also are developing vaccine candidates for RSV, though Johnson & Johnson's announcement is the most promising news about a potential RSV vaccine that has emerged to date.

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