Transmission of paediatric respiratory syncytial virus and influenza in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

Thomas C. Williams, Ian Sinha, Ian G. Barr, Maria Zambon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have had consequences on the transmission of other respiratory viruses, most notably paediatric respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza. At the beginning of 2020, lockdown measures in the southern hemisphere led to a winter season with a marked reduction in both infections. Intermittent lockdowns in the northern hemisphere also appeared to interrupt transmission during winter 2020/21. However, a number of southern and northern hemisphere countries have now seen delayed RSV peaks. We examine the implications of these unpredictable disease dynamics for health service delivery in Europe, such as paediatric hospital and intensive care bed space planning, or palivizumab prophylaxis. We discuss the challenges for RSV vaccine trials and influenza immunisation campaigns, and highlight the considerable research opportunities that have arisen with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We argue that the rapid advances in viral whole genome sequencing, phylogenetic analysis, and open data sharing during the pandemic are applicable to the ongoing surveillance of RSV and influenza. Lastly, we outline actions to prepare for forthcoming influenza seasons and for future implementation of RSV vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2100186
Number of pages9
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2021


  • influenza
  • respiratory infections
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus


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