Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – a respiratory virus that causes typically mild cold-like symptoms – has apparently been selected as the next invisible boogey man. Most children have been exposed to RSV by their second birthday. The fact that most children survive past the age of 2 tells you something about the risks involved. That said, in very rare cases, RSV can progress to pneumonia or bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways of the lungs). Moderna’s press release correctly points out that there’s no approved vaccine available for RSV. What they don’t mention is why. The reason there’s no RSV vaccine on the market is the same reason why there has never been a coronavirus vaccine, and that is because none of them were able to pass trials. As with coronavirus, previous efforts to develop an RSV vaccine have met with failure as test subjects have a pesky tendency to die or become seriously ill when exposed to the wild virus, thanks to paradoxical immune enhancement (PIE), also known as antibody dependent enhancement (ADE).
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