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South Central Ambulance to give antibody jabs to babies at home

SCAS is the first ambulance service in the country to offer the service to protect against the Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus is one of the leading causes of hospitalisation in all infants worldwide, affecting 90% of children before the age of two.

It often causes only mild illness like a cold but, for some babies, it leads to more severe lung problems such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia with a resurgence being experienced since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

Now as part of a study called Harmonie, which will involve 20,000 infants across the UK, France and Germany, SCAS paramedics will be visiting families across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire to give the jab to babies under 12 months old.

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.”

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: “RSV is a common respiratory virus which affects nearly all children before the age of two.

“For most children it causes a mild illness like a cold, however, it can lead to more severe lung problems for some, such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

“The Harmonie 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.”

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.

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