William Schaffner, MD, on Using an mRNA Vaccine to Prevent CMV Infection

In this soundbite, William Schaffner, MD, speaks about the need for a safe and effective vaccine against cytomegalovirus infection to prevent congenital cytomegalovirus, including the potential of using a messenger RNA vaccine. This topic was presented at the 2021 virtual Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. 

Additional Resource:

  • Panther L, Fierro C, Brune D, et al. Safety and immunogenicity of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine against cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection: Phase 2 Interim Data. Presented at: 2021 Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research; April 26-27, 2021; Virtual.

William Schaffner, MD, is the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and is a professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Health Policy and a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.



Jessica Bard: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another installment of "Podcasts360," your go‑to resource for medical news and clinical updates. I'm your moderator, Jessica Bard, with Consultant360 Specialty Network.

The Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research has brought together infectious disease researchers and public health experts from around the world for more than 20 years. It's sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

The NFID medical director, Dr William Schaffner, is here to speak with us about some of the most timely topics presented at the 2021 Virtual Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research.

Thank you for joining us today, Dr Schaffner. Birth prevalence of CMV infection is 0.64 percent worldwide and ranges from 0.2 to 6.1 percent in developing countries.

A safe and effective vaccine against CMV infection remains a high priority to prevent congenital CMV. What is the potential of using an mRNA vaccine to prevent CMV infection?

Dr William Schaffner: Now that we have an mRNA vaccine, or vaccines, for COVID, one of the most frequently asked questions is, "Ooh, can this technology be applied to other vaccines also?"

Here we have an example. Cytomegala Virus, CMV, is now the most common congenital viral infection. Of the infants that are infected with CMV, 10 to 15 percent of them become seriously ill. Of those seriously ill, about 10 percent will die in the first year of life. This is not a trivial problem at all.

This was the report of a Phase 2 study of a CMV vaccine made with the mRNA technology. It was a dose‑ranging, and what it showed, and these were the goals, that there was no serious safety issue in immunizing anyone and that the vaccine did raise an appropriate immune response. Those are the goals of a Phase 2 trial.

Effectiveness, that will come later in a very large Phase 3 trial. So far, so good, let's all stay tuned to see what happens when this mRNA vaccine against congenital CMV infection is put into a large Phase 3 trial. We'll have to wait probably a couple of years before we get the answer. Long journeys begin with first steps. This looks like a pretty secure first step.

Jessica: Thank you very much for your time today, Dr Schaffner. I enjoyed speaking with you.

Dr Schaffner: [laughs] My great pleasure. Just remember my favorite saying, "When in doubt, vaccinate."