RSV ComNet: Burden of RSV in the Community Network

Development and Testing of a Research Protocol

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of acute lower respiratory infections in children. By the age of one, 60–70% of children have been infected by RSV (2%-3% of whom are hospitalized), and almost all children have been infected by two years of age. A global burden of disease study has recently shown that RSV is estimated to cause approximately 33.8 million new episodes of acute lower respiratory infections annually in children aged <5 years worldwide, resulting in 3.2 million hospital admissions and 59,600 in-hospital deaths in children aged <5 years in 2015. RSV is also recognized as a cause of illness in adults and high-risk adults, with a disease burden similar to that of seasonal influenza A.

 To support optimal immunization strategies to prevent and control RSV in the future, it is critically important to understand who develops symptoms leading to healthcare usage and to identify which groups are at risk of more severe RSV infection requiring hospitalization or intensive care, and what is the impact on primary care. There are currently approximately 60 RSV vaccine candidates and monoclonal antibodies that are in pre-clinical development up to phase III clinical trials, with potential target groups including the elderly, pregnant women and infants. An RSV vaccine is expected to enter the market in the coming years.

 Knowledge about the burden of RSV in small children in the community, and in particular the complications from the disease and healthcare use, is important to plan and model the introduction of immunization strategies to prevent and control RSV. In addition, these data will form an important epidemiological baseline point regarding the burden of RSV before these strategies are implemented.

Updated: 19 September 2019