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Colorado caught up in nationwide concern over shortage of antibody treatment to protect infants from RSV

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- As winter sets in, hospitals and pediatricians are scrambling to find limited supplies of an antibody to immunize infants and young children against RSV.

New England Journal of Medicine

RSV is a respiratory virus that requires hospital treatment for hundreds of kids in Colorado each year, mostly during the cold and flu season.


While many people describe the situation as an RSV vaccine shortage, experts say that the antibody treatment is not a traditional vaccine -- it does, however provide protection against the virus.


KRDO 13 spent much of Tuesday afternoon asking hospitals, pediatricians and public health agencies if they know when they’ll be able to get the antibody -- which is called nirsevimab and is administered by a shot.


The response was that they’re trying and hoping to get it, but have not heard when that’ll happen.

The shortage is such that the Centers for Disease Control (CDCrecently advised health-care providers to prioritize administering the antibody to children at the highest risk of contracting RSV.


On Tuesday afternoon, Children's Hospital Colorado released the following statement on the matter:


"It's thrilling to see such high demand for nirsevimab as a prevention mechanism for RSV in young children, especially given the high toll RSV takes each year on this population in terms of hospitalization and death. We hope increased supply soon becomes available, and are aligned with the CDC's and AAP's recommendation to prioritize nirsevimab's use in children who have the highest risk of severe RSV disease for this respiratory virus season while supply remains limited. Additionally, all available efforts need to be taken to ensure equitable distribution of available doses through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which provides vaccines at no cost to infants who are Medicaid-eligible, un- or under-insured, or American Indian or Alaska Native."

Data from the CDC shows a slight increase in Colorado RSV cases, which makes the shortage of nirsevimab supply even more of a concern. 

Pharmaceutical companies say that the high demand is why there's a shortage of the antibody treatment.


However, many health care providers blame the high cost -- between $400 to $500 dollars for a single dose -- and it's unclear whether the treatment is covered by insurance.

Nirsevimab -- Under the brand name Beyfortus -- was just approved in July by the Food and Drug Administration, to immunize infants and young children from RSV.


The respiratory virus sends an estimated 80,000 children in the U.S. to hospitals every year.

The antibody is administered by a shot of 100-milligrams; 50-milligram doses are not affected by the shortage.

A child's dose is based on his or her age and weight.

John Hopkins/Bloomberg School of Public Health

But the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, for safety reasons, that two smaller doses can't be combined into one larger dose.

So, the CDC recently advised that the larger doses be prioritized  for children younger than 8 months; for infants with certain medical conditions; and for certain ethnic groups.

There is also a new RSV vaccine available for pregnant women and people over the age of 65; the shortage does not affect the adult supply.

KRDO 13 continues to work to find information for parents on how the antibodies will be distributed across our state when more supply comes in. 

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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