According to a new study published in The Lancet Journal, more than 100,000 deaths among children under the age of five worldwide in 2019 were due to a common virus that usually causes cold-like symptoms.
The study, the first to examine the understanding of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) disease in narrow age brackets, reports that more than 45,000 children under the age of six months died in 2019, with one in five worldwide cases of RSV. This age group.
Harish Nair, co-author of the study at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, said: “RSV is the leading cause of acute lower respiratory infections in young children and our updated estimates suggest that children six months or younger are particularly vulnerable.”
This is “especially with increasing cases because COVID-19 restrictions around the world are being relaxed and most infants born in the last 2 years have never been exposed to RSV (and therefore have no immunity to the virus”), Nair said.
Researchers have noted that with a large number of RSV vaccine candidates, estimates by narrow age range help to identify the groups that should be given priority.
This includes pregnant women to protect their youngest children, as well as current strategies that vaccinate pregnant women against whooping cough, typhoid and tetanus, they say.
The results are broadly consistent with earlier estimates from a 2015 survey, which put the annual number of cases of RSV among 33.1 million five-year-olds at an annual rate, resulting in a total of 118,200 deaths, the researchers said.
However, this updated count of RSV deaths globally, regionally and nationally in 2019 includes modeling data from more than a hundred new studies, they said.
This allows researchers to provide estimates for narrower age groups – ranging from 28 days to six months old, known as the age range with the highest RSV mortality rate – and community mortality, i.e., hospital deaths that did not occur.
Worldwide, in 2019, 33 million RSV-related acute lower respiratory infections occurred in children under the age of five, resulting in 3.6 million hospital admissions, 26,300 hospital deaths, and the researchers responsible for 101,400 RSVs, the researchers said.
It is responsible for one in 50 deaths or 2 percent of annual deaths for any reason in this age range, they said.
For children under six months of age, there were 6.6 million RSV-associated acute lower respiratory infections worldwide in 2019, according to researchers.
With 1.4 million hospital admissions, 13,300 hospital deaths and 45,700 overall deaths are responsible for RSV within this age range, accounting for 2.1 percent of the annual deaths of one in 50 people or any other cause, they said.
Based on estimates of the overall RSV mortality rate in hospitals, only 26 percent worldwide, or approximately four RSV-related deaths occur in a hospital.
This is especially evident in low- and middle-income countries, where the hospital-mortality rate for children under five is 1.4 percent, compared to 0.1 percent in high-income countries.
Overall, 97 percent of RSV deaths among children under five occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
“Our study estimates that three-quarters of RSV deaths occur outside the hospital. This gap is even greater in LMICs, especially among children under six months of age, where more than 80 percent of deaths occur in the community,” said Jin Wang. Author, Nanjing Medical University, China and University of Edinburgh, UK.
“This reflects the fact that access and availability of hospital care is still limited in these areas. Community early identification and referrals for hospitalization of sick children (especially those with low oxygen saturation in peripheral blood), and universal effective and cost-effective immunization programs.” Will be, ”Wang said.
The authors acknowledge some limitations to their study. Study settings, accurate case definition of acute respiratory tract infection (ALRI), health-care access and sought-after behavior, and RSV test eligibility may influence estimates of death statistics produced in modeling, they said.