Cases of respiratory syncytial virus are climbing in Texas as providers throughout the nation are reporting shortages of a new drug that can prevent severe cases of RSV in infants.
“We have had a little bit of a lower supply” of the medication, said Dr. Bianka Soria-Olmos with Cook Children’s Pediatrics Haslet during a press conference last week.
Some offices within the Cook Children’s network do still have supply of the drug, called nirsevimab, and are distributing it to infants who are younger than 6 months, Soria-Olmos said.
For years, doctors had no tools to prevent RSV, a virus that causes colds or mild illness for most people but that can be deadly for infants and older adults.
But earlier this year, federal officials approved multiple new vaccines: Two vaccines were approved for adults over the age of 60; one vaccine was approved for pregnant women to protect their newborns; and nirsevimab was approved for infants.
Nirsivimab became available in October and providers quickly found that there were not enough doses available for all parents who wanted to protect their infants.
Sanofi, which manufactures the drug under the brand name “Beyfortus,” said in a statement there had been an “unprecedented demand” for the medicine that was higher than the company had anticipated.
In response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines to prioritize the infants at highest risk for serious disease. The CDC also announced Thursday that it had made available another 77,000 doses for states to distribute through the Vaccines for Children program.
RSV cases are continuing to climb in Texas, according to the latest data from the state health department, although have not yet reached the same unusually high levels from the same time period last year. Last year’s RSV season started unusually early and coincided with an unusually aggressive flu season.
Doctors have not reported any shortages of the RSV vaccines available for people 65 and older and for pregnant women.