Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) is urging parents across Hampshire to support a new respiratory virus study looking into the UK’s leading cause of infant hospitalisation, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).
Taking place at HHFT’s Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals, the ground-breaking HARMONIE study is looking at how strongly babies can be protected from serious illness due to RSV infection, by giving them a single dose of nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody immunisation.
In recent months, HHFT’s emergency and paediatric departments have seen a stark increase of RSV cases in babies across all sites, emphasising the importance of this study.
Madiha Aziz, paediatric doctor at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, whose son is taking part in the study, said:
“Working in paediatrics, I see a lot of poorly babies come into the hospital with respiratory illness and it is very often due to RSV infection.
“When I heard that the study was taking place, I didn’t hesitate. I felt the need to contribute in any way that I could, knowing that it will be helping to reduce the severity of RSV infection for babies in the future, including my own.
“My son was 11 months old when we signed up for it, and taking part has been so easy. You have an initial meeting to find out which group your child will be in and everything else you can do in the comfort of your own home, filling out some questions each month through an app and a phone call after a year.
“Taking part doesn’t seem like much, but it will have a huge impact.”
RSV affects 90% of children before the age of two. Whilst it often causes only mild illnesses, like a cold, for some babies it leads to more severe lung problems such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
The study, which is a collaboration between Sanofi, its partner AstraZeneca, and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), will evaluate the efficacy of nirsevimab. The antibody has recently been approved by both the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).