The human orthopneumovirus (human respiratory syncytial virus [RSV]) is a leading cause of respiratory disease in children worldwide and a significant cause of infant mortality in low- and middle-income countries. The natural immune response to the virus has a preponderant role in disease progression, with a rapid neutrophil infiltration and dysbalanced T cell response in the lungs associated with severe disease in infants. The development of preventive interventions against human RSV has been difficult partly due to the need to use animal models that only partially recapitulate the immune response as well as the disease progression seen in human infants. In this brief review, we discuss the contributions of the calf model of RSV infection to understanding immunity to RSV and in developing vaccine and drug candidates, focusing on recent research areas. We propose that the bovine model of RSV infection is a valuable alternative for assessing the translational potential of interventions aimed at the human population.

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