Journal of Infectious Diseases – Volume 215 Issue 1 January 1, 2017

Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 215 Issue 1 January 1, 2017

Vaccines Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus: The Time Has Come
J Infect Dis. (2017) 215 (1): 4-7 doi:10.1093/infdis/jiw455
Janet A. Englund and Helen Y. Chu
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) remains the single most important cause of respiratory tract disease in infants, both in the United States [1] and worldwide [2]. This virus is responsible for bronchiolitis in infants and for clinical disease often indistinguishable from influenza in elderly or immunocompromised hosts. RSV disease was first characterized by astute clinicians such as John Adams in the 1940s, as the cause of primary viral pneumonitis in infants in winter months [3]. RSV was subsequently propagated in Robert Chanock’s laboratory in the late 1950s [4], confirming the laboratory and clinical findings of disease caused by “chimpanzee coryza” virus described earlier by Morris et al in 1956 [5]. Over the next 50 years, innovative clinical studies by Caroline Breese Hall, Paul Glezen, Ann Falsey, and many others demonstrated the ubiquity, importance, and potential severity of RSV infection in preterm infants, young children, immunocompromised patients, and elderly individuals [6–8]. The article by Langley et al [9] in this issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases adds considerably to our knowledge regarding vaccines against RSV, a saga that has been ongoing for decades with remarkably little success [10].
There is still no approved vaccine against RSV. The tragic outcome of a formalin-inactivated, alum-precipitated RSV vaccine candidate in the 1960s has resulted in a near moratorium on RSV vaccine research since that time [11, 12]. The early formalin-inactivated vaccine candidate not only failed to protect young seronegative infants against RSV disease but resulted in severe enhanced respiratory disease in vaccine recipients after…