RSV responsible for more than 100,000 deaths worldwide in children under five in 2019
A new study published in The Lancet estimates that Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)-attributable acute lower respiratory infection was responsible for more than 100,000 deaths in children under five globally in 2019.
RSV is the predominant cause of acute lower respiratory infection in young children, and the updated estimates reveal that children six months and younger are particularly vulnerable.
Across the globe in 2019, there were 33 million RSV-associated acute lower respiratory infection episodes in children under five years old, leading to 3.6 million hospital admissions, 26,300 in-hospital deaths, and 101,400 RSV-attributable deaths overall. This accounts for one in 50 or 2% of annual deaths from any cause in this age range.
In 2019, 6.6 million under-6-month-olds had RSV-associated acute lower respiratory infections. RSV caused 1.4 million hospital admissions, 13,300 hospital deaths, and 45,700 overall deaths in this age range, or 2.1% of annual deaths. In low- and middle-income countries, 97% of RSV deaths in children under 5 occurred.
Early identification of cases in the community and referral for hospital admission of sick children (particularly those with low oxygen saturation in peripheral blood) and universal effective and affordable immunisation programmes will be vital in the future.