According to a study conducted by Australian and international researchers, in 2019 the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was responsible for more than 100,000 deaths of children under the age of five worldwide.
Researchers studied the severity of RSV disease in narrow age groups, reporting that in 2019 there were more than 45,000 deaths in infants under six months of age, with one in five of the total global cases of RSV occurring in that age group.
“RSV is the predominant cause of acute respiratory infections in young children, and our updated estimates show that children under six months of age and younger are particularly vulnerable, especially due to the increase in cases as COVID-19 restrictions are reduced worldwide and most young children born in the last two years have never been exposed to RSV (and therefore are not immune to the virus). Given the many candidates for the RSV vaccine, our estimates of narrower age ranges help identify groups that should be prioritized, including pregnant women, so that children in the youngest age groups can be protected, as are current strategies that offer pertussis vaccines, typhoid fever and tetanus for pregnant women, ”said Harish Nair of the University of Edinburgh in the UK, co-author of an article published in Lancet.
Worldwide in 2019, there were 33 million episodes of acute lower respiratory tract infections in children under the age of five, resulting in 3.6 million hospitalizations, 26,300 hospital deaths, and 101,400 RSV deaths (including community deaths) . according to the study authors. This is one in 50 or 2% of annual deaths from any cause in this age range.
For children under the age of six months in 2019, there were 6.6 million episodes of acute lower respiratory tract infections associated with RSV worldwide. There were 1.4 million hospitalized, 13,300 hospital deaths, and 45,700 total RSV deaths in this age range, accounting for every 50, or 2.1% of annual deaths from any cause.
Based on estimates of in-hospital and overall RSV mortality rates, only 26% of the world, or about one in four RSV deaths, occurs in hospital. This is particularly evident in low- and middle-income countries, where the in-hospital mortality rate before the age of five is 1.4%, compared with 0.1% in high-income countries. Overall, 97% of RSV deaths among children under five occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
“According to our study, three-quarters of deaths from RSV occur outside hospitals. This gap is even larger in the SNSD, especially in children under the age of six months, where more than 80% of deaths occur in society. This reflects the fact that access to and availability of hospital care is still limited in these regions. Early detection of cases in the community and referral of sick children (especially those with low oxygen saturation in the peripheral blood) and referral of sick children to hospital, as well as universal effective and affordable immunization programs will be vital in the future, ”said Xin Wang, co-author of the book. . Studies, Nanjing Medical University, China and Edinburgh University, UK.
The authors acknowledged some of the limitations of this study. Variations in factors such as the study setting, accurate determination of the case of acute lower respiratory tract infection (ARI), access to health care and seeking behavior, and suitability for RSV testing may affect estimates of mortality figures obtained from the simulation. The breakdown by age group was also limited by the data available for the study. In addition, all data were collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; It is unknown how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the severity of RSV disease in the long run.