Rise in hospitalisations for common childhood respiratory virus

A summary of research published in ERJ Open Research

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) affects most babies by the time they are two years old. For most, the symptoms are like a common cold. During the pandemic, many countries placed restrictions on children going to school and spending time with friends. As these restrictions lift, there has been a rise in the number of RSV infections that need a hospital visit.

This new study aims to look at the global trends for RSV to help policymakers plan for the future.

What did the study look at?

The study looked at all research related to RSV published between January 2009 and May 2021. It collected the data together to help spot patterns in the numbers during the pandemic and as restrictions have been lifted.

What do the results show?

The findings revealed:

  • The number of hospital visits for RSV decreased during the period of social restrictions.
  • The highest numbers of hospitalisations were in children under the age of 1 year, particularly in 0–2-month-old infants.
  • Since social restrictions have eased, countries are reporting peaks in the number of cases at different times of year. This is in contrast to previous years before the pandemic, when the peak is usually only seen in the winter months.
Why is this important?

This study groups together reports on hospital visits for RSV to look at what is happening with this virus across the world. As restrictions ease and children are interacting again, there is likely to be a continued increase in the number of hospital visits for RSV. The numbers could also peak at different times of the year, rather than just winter. These findings are important to help prepare healthcare systems that may be struggling after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further information

Read the original research paper:

Title: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) associated hospitalisation in children age ≤5 years: A scoping review of literature from 2009-2021