RESCEU’s RSV Global Disease Burden study reveals substantial RSV community morbidity and mortality burden in young children in low- and middle-income countries

RESCEU scientists publish latest global disease burden estimates of RSV in The Lancet revealing substantial RSV community morbidity and mortality burden in young children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Some of the most relevant findings are:

    • Globally, 33 million episodes of RSV acute lower respiratory infection (including pneumonia and bronchiolitis) occur annually, with 95% of episodes occurring in LMICs.
    • Annually, for every 1,000 young children, 52 episodes of RSV acute lower respiratory infection can be found in LMICs compared to 24 episodes in high-income countries. However, a smaller proportion of young children could reach hospitals for RSV illnesses in LMICs than in high-income countries.
    • Globally, RSV is responsible for 101,000 deaths in young children, with more than 99% from LMICs.
    • For every one RSV death in hospitals, there are three more RSV deaths in the community.
    • Children younger than six months are most prone to RSV related morbidity and mortality, accounting for 20% of RSV acute lower respiratory infection episodes and 46% of RSV deaths in children under five years.

“RSV immunisation programmes targeting protection in infants younger than six months are likely to be impactful, especially in LMICs that have substantial RSV disease burden in the community. Children in LMICs who had limited access to care could only be protected from RSV severe outcomes through the implementation of RSV immunisation programmes.”, says Prof. You Li from Nanjing Medical University, the leading author of paper.

Acces the full publication here.

Read BBC World’s report here

BronchStart study will help predict RSV epidemics

Non-pharmaceutical interventions to slow or eliminate the spread of COVID-19 have had dramatic consequences on the transmission of other respiratory viruses, in particular Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in children. Now, the BronchStart surveillance study funded by RESCEU, will contribute to identify and interpret the impact of delayed bronchiolitis epidemic in the UK and Ireland. The study is being led by UEDIN.

The BronchStart project is a surveillance platform study run by the PERUKI network (Paediatric Emergency Research UK and Ireland) across paediatric emergency departments throughout the UK. PERUKI provides an ability to access a wide network of paediatric emergency medicine doctors (current almost 50 UK sites for BronchStart) who actively support studies and data entry. This capability has enabled BronchStart through PERUKI to commence surveillance activities at speed and low cost.

This is of extremely relevance, as the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions for COVID-19 has disrupted RSV transmission, and with it, our ability to predict timing of RSV epidemics. BronchStart using a RedCAP database to gather live information from emergency departments is now able to deliver information on RSV case frequency and distribution in populations across the UK. Importantly BronchStart can also provide information on age distribution of cases (as lack of seasonality may enhance susceptability for particular age groups) and disease severity. These functions are reported live (through the microreact website) and can alert clinicians to anticipate changes in workload and prepare for out of season RSV surges. To date over 11000 children have been recruited. We are also now engaging with sites through BronchStart to interrogate genomic aspects of RSV spread and severity, adding another layer of information to our understanding of RSV disease.

The PERUKI network is long established. RESCEU funding has enabled us to demonstrate the value of BronchStart and we are actively capitalising on that value to seek funding to continue these activities beyond September.

By Steve Cunningham, Professor Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at University of Edinburgh and Damian Roland, Honorary Professor of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, at Leicester University.

BronchStart  study is sponsored by University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.