US pediatric hospitals swamped by RSV

USA — Children’s hospitals in the United States are under strain due to an unusually high number of children infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other respiratory viruses.

It’s the latest example of how the pandemic has disrupted the usual seasonal patterns of respiratory illnesses, denying healthcare workers a break ahead of a potentially hectic winter as coronavirus, influenza, and other viruses collide.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common cause of cold-like illness in young children. It began to spread in late summer, months before its typical season, which runs from November to early spring.

According to federal data, the United States has recorded about 5,000 cases per week this month, which is on par with last year but far higher than October 2020, when more coronavirus restrictions were in place and very few people were getting RSV.

Publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates a strong presence of RSV in the Midwest, with states like Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Wisconsin among the top ten states in terms of positivity rates.

This data, however, is incomplete, with about a quarter of states not reporting any case data.

The CDC on Friday said in a briefing that RSV cases are rising in 8 out of the 10 regions that states are divided into under the Department of Health and Human Services.

The southeast and south-central regions of the U.S. are seeing decreases in cases, including states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Texas.

RSV symptoms are similar to a cold and can be harmless in adults, but the CDC says children under the age of 5 are the most affected group.

According to the agency’s data, each year approximately 58,000 children in that age range are hospitalized for RSV.

The next most vulnerable group is adults over 65, in whom the infection causes 14,000 deaths a year.

RSV can lead to bronchiolitis, an infection that causes airways to become inflamed and clogged with mucus, making it difficult to breathe. If the infection travels to the lung sacs, it can result in pneumonia.

There are no vaccines for RSV, though Pfizer and GSK, have announced positive results from phase 3 clinical trials in seniors for their respective RSV vaccine candidates.

This is typically the final stage of testing before a company submits its vaccine for FDA approval. GSK on its part has nabbed a priority review and a May 3 approval action date for its RSV vaccine in older adults.

Two other major pharma competitors, Janssen and Moderna, have their own RSV vaccine candidates in clinical trials

Monoclonal antibodies are occasionally used as a primary preventative measure in children who are at high risk of developing severe illness.

A new monoclonal antibody developed by drugmaker Sanofi has already been approved in Europe to protect infants against RSV infection.

While not a full-fledged vaccine, the drug Beyfortus (nirsevimab) would be the first treatment available to protect infants against RSV during their first year of life. Sanofi said the drug has been submitted to the FDA for approval.

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.