Paramedics to be first to deliver jab for babies to protect against dangerous virus

Martina Brown, research and clinical audit manager, with research paramedic Andrew Claxton. <i>(Image: SCAS)</i>
Martina Brown, research and clinical audit manager, with research paramedic Andrew Claxton. (Image: SCAS)

PARAMEDICS in the south are set to be the first to deliver antibody jabs for babies to protect them against a dangerous respiratory virus.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is set to become the first ambulance service in the country to provide the injection for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

RSV is one of the leading causes of hospitalisation in all infants worldwide, affecting 90 per cent of children before the age of two.

Research paramedics and nurses from SCAS will offer families the opportunity to be involved by visiting them at home if they are unable to travel to hospitals, GP practices or vaccination centres.

RSV often causes only mild illness like a cold, but for some babies, it leads to more severe lung problems such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

In a study known as HARMONIE, researchers across the UK will give babies up to the age of 12 month their first RSV jab.

They will then assess how strongly they can be protected from serious illness due to RSV infection.

Martina Brown, research and clinical audit manager at SCAS, said: “We are extremely proud to be the first ambulance trust to utilise our dedicated research paramedics and nurses to immunise patients against this potentially dangerous winter virus.

“Our involvement means we are able to offer an opportunity to be involved to those families who are unable to travel to medical centres by visiting them at home and, given the cascading effect of RSV on ambulance services and the wider NHS, the potential positive impact of this pioneering study could be significant.”

The trial is a collaboration between Sanofi, its partner AstraZeneca and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and will run until March next year.

Dr Simon Drysdale, consultant paediatrician in infectious diseases at St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and co-chief investigator of the study, said: “The study is looking at how strongly babies can be protected from illness caused by RSV infection through a single antibody dose, which acts in the same way as antibodies in our own bodies but is targeted specifically to fight RSV.

Anyone interested in finding out more or signing up can visit the study website www.rsvharmoniestudy.com.

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