White House urges RSV immunization makers to meet demand

By Susan Heavey and Ahmed Aboulenein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Senior Biden administration officials met with the makers of RSV immunizations for children this week to underscore the need for manufacturers such as Sanofi and AstraZeneca to urgently meet demand as winter approaches, the White House said on Tuesday.

At a meeting at the White House on Monday, officials and manufacturers also agreed to plan now to meet next year's demand for the immunizations targeting respiratory syncytial virus, which generally causes mild, cold-like symptoms but can develop into severe illness in infants and older adults.

"Monday's meeting follows numerous in-person and virtual meetings to seek ways manufacturers can make more RSV immunizations available for infants," the White House said in a statement.

"We, along with our alliance partner AstraZeneca, in charge of manufacturing, remain in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration, as well as the White House, to explore solutions to address this exceptional demand and actively plan for the 2024-2025 season," a Sanofi spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Separately, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had expedited the release of more than 77,000 additional doses of Sanofi and AstraZeneca's RSV drug Beyfortus which was approved earlier this year to prevent the disease in infants and toddlers.

RSV cases in the U.S. began a sharp upward trend in the middle of October and were at the highest level since January last winter with 4,952 cases detected through testing in the week ended Nov. 4, according to the CDC website.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Ahmed Aboulenein; Additional reporting by Mike Erman in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Stephen Coates)