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Kiwi women taking part in global trial of RSV vaccine

May 04, 2022

Lauren TV one 



Christchurch woman Loren Heaphy is one of 80 New Zealand participants in a world-wide respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine trial.

RSV causes lung and respiratory tract infections and is highly contagious, there is no effective vaccine or cure for it. 

The virus is usually not serious for adults and older children but infants and premature babies can become very sick. 

Pfizer is carrying out the vaccine trial, which is currently in phase three and is given to pregnant women rather than the baby.


The goal of the vaccine is that the mother will make and produce antibodies that pass through the placenta, boosting the baby’s immunity before they’re born.

Loren Heaphy - a mother of two - is a participant in the trial.

"We have a five-year-old already, he caught RSV, he was quite unwell and we saw how much it overwhelmed the hospitals," she told Breakfast.

"Everyone we knew seemed to have it [RSV] and it was just overwhelming and anytime you see your little one sick you just want to do anything you can to help them, especially when they’re struggling to breathe."

Heaphy said when she was pregnant with her daughter Amaia, her obstetrician suggested the trial.

“Anything I can do for this little one to set her up for success then I’m going to try and do it," she said.

"Knowing RSV affected little babies and knowing I was bringing a pēpē into the world, I thought that this vaccine trial was a good opportunity to protect her,” Heaphy said.

“I just have to fill out an online diary to see how I’m feeling and now that Amaia has been born, we have monthly check ups with a paediatrician and if she becomes unwell then we go to a paediatrician who do tests on her to check whether or not the vaccine trial has helped her in battling RSV if she catches it,” Heaphy said.

She added, “there is a chance that I’ve had the placebo so we’re not sure if I’ve had the vaccine or the placebo and we’ll find that out I think in 2024.”

Heaphy said Amaia will visit a paediatrician every month until she turns one, “for the first year of her life we’ve got some extra paediatric care which is really great and reassuring as well given this winter is going to be quite fraught with a lot of illnesses with borders opening.”

(Source: 1 News)

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