EFCNI Welcomes Platinum Partner AstraZeneca to Raise Awareness of RSV



With EFCNI’s long standing leadership in preterm infants’ health and well-being, and AstraZeneca’s heritage in the RSV space, this partnership aims to increase awareness and educate parents and healthcare providers about the signs and symptoms of this challenging condition and available preventative options.

In celebration of EFCNI’s platinum partnership with AstraZeneca, we had the opportunity to sit down with three leaders from AstraZeneca’s RSV team to ask about their work within the disease area. RSV is a very common, contagious seasonal virus that is easily transmissible from person to person through respiratory droplets, for example through coughing or sneezing.[1,2] While most babies with RSV will only experience mild, cold-like symptoms, serious cases of RSV can have a significant impact and even be life-threatening.[2] Here at EFCNI we care deeply for the well-being of all new-borns and know the potential threat that RSV can have on infants, especially those born preterm or with underlying health issues, and their families worldwide. That’s why we are proud to partner with AstraZeneca and share their ambition to improve RSV care for infants worldwide.

What excites you most about future medical advances in RSV?
Catia Ferreira, Global Medical Leadership:
  Worldwide, RSV is a leading cause of acute lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI), such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia, in infants and young children.[3] Sadly, one in every 160 children younger than five years old who develop a LRTI caused by RSV will die.[4,5] There’s a clear and urgent need to advance the science. Despite no currently available treatment options for RSV, I’m excited to see rapid advancements in medicine. The future for vulnerable infants now looks significantly more positive than it once was. I’m proud to work for AstraZeneca, where we continuously strive to find innovative preventative solutions to combat this challenging virus.


What is it about your role on the RSV team that gets you out of bed in the morning?
Tonya Villafana, Vice President, Global Franchise Head, Infection:  COVID-19 has shined a light on respiratory diseases. Even prior to the pandemic, respiratory diseases requiring medical treatment have been associated with increased costs to the healthcare system.[6] The importance of medicines and preventative options that can keep patients from becoming seriously ill and out of the hospital is even greater now. This is particularly true for some of our most vulnerable patients, infants and children that we have a responsibility to protect against an incredibly common but less-known respiratory infection – RSV. I have been working on viruses for more than twenty years and in RSV for 12 years. Seeing how the work we do at AstraZeneca everyday impacts vulnerable children around the world is incredible. I know that what we do contributes to saving lives and that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Why is AstraZeneca the right company to help parents and infants with RSV?
Laura Roth, Global Commercial Director, RSV: I am incredibly proud of AstraZeneca’s commitment to help protect infants who are at high risk of RSV, an illness that will affect nearly all infants before their second birthday.[7,8] Preparedness against RSV disease is high on the radar of governments and the clinical community, as countries around the world start to re-open and levels of RSV immunity are relatively low. At AstraZeneca, we are building on our longstanding heritage in respiratory diseases to help ensure that vulnerable infants, preterm babies for instance, are not at risk of RSV and we are working to provide the education and support parents and the clinical community need to combat this illness.



  1. Jones A. RSV: when it’s more than just a cold. Updated November 4, 2019. Accessed June 22, 2020.
  2. Piedimonte G, Perez MK. Respiratory syncytial virus infection and bronchiolitis. Pediatr Rev. 2014;35(12):519-530. doi:10.1542/pir.35-12-519
  3. Lu B, Liu H, Tabor DE, et al. Emergence of new antigenic epitopes in the glycomproteins of human respiratory syncytial virus collected from a US surveillance study, 2015-17. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):3898. Doi:10.100.38/s41598-019-40387-7
  4. Nair H, et al. Global burden of acute lower respiratory infections due to respiratory syncytial virus in young children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2010 May 1; 375(9725):1545-55.
  5. Stein RT, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus hospitalization and mortality: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Pediatric Pulmonology (2017) 52:556-569. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23570.
  6. Leistner, R, et al. “Attributable Costs of Ventilator-Associated Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI) Acquired on Intensive Care Units: a Retrospectively Matched Cohort Study.” Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control. 2013;2(1):13., doi:10.1186/2047-2994-2-13.
  7. Glezen WP et al. Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(6):543-546
  8. Collins et al. Journal of Virology. 2008:2040–2055