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The public, NHS and financial system face vital pressures yearly from winter respiratory viruses, which may require substantial assets to handle.1,2,3 With covid-19 now additionally included throughout the seasonal diseases being tackled, this winter might be much more difficult for the UK inhabitants and the NHS.

The pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities of the well being care system when positioned beneath vital and extended pressure and has strengthened the necessity for preventative well being methods to guard sufferers, the NHS, and guarantee wider financial resilience.4 This yr, the epidemiology of seasonal viruses is out of sync with the same old patterns on account of measures that had been carried out to attempt to management covid-19.5

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Periods of lockdown and social distancing resulted in a lower in inhabitants immunity, elevating considerations concerning the influence of influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus this winter, significantly given rising proof of an increase in hospital admissions from RSV. 6 The Academy of Medical Sciences has predicted that hospital admissions and deaths from flu and RSV this winter might be twice that of a “regular” yr.7

To put this prediction towards the context of a “regular”, pre-pandemic yr, RSV, a number one reason behind toddler hospitalisation within the UK, is answerable for round 30,000 hospitalisations in kids beneath 5 every year. 8,9 It impacts roughly 90 per cent of kids a minimum of as soon as earlier than the age of two, with most infections producing delicate signs. 10,11

Despite its widespread influence, consciousness of the virus is low amongst pregnant ladies and midwives which, alongside a scarcity of routine testing for RSV, signifies that our understanding of its full burden on society and the NHS stays restricted.12,13,14,15,16,17 Recent expertise of defending towards seasonal infections resembling covid-19 and rotavirus has proven the advantages of prevention methods.

Seasonal rotavirus an infection within the under-fives was once answerable for over 14,000 hospitalisations and 140,000 GP visits yearly, nonetheless following the profitable introduction of prophylactic measures, laboratory confirmed instances considerably dropped.18,19

In a lot the identical manner, while measures over the previous 18 months have been drastic, implementing social distancing and selling strategies to keep away from covid-19 transmission resembling mask-wearing and handwashing have been clear demonstrations of the worth of prevention in healthcare.

Though measures of this calibre usually are not at all times crucial, they’ve proven what is feasible in managing circulating viral infections, serving to to handle the burden of winter viruses on the NHS.20 Successful methods for prevention towards seasonal viruses be certain that the general public, the NHS and the financial system are ready to face each the recognized and unknown dangers that threaten public well being.

Learning from previous experiences and from public well being interventions that had been utilised through the pandemic, it’s paramount that we strengthen planning and forward-looking funding in preventative methods to make sure that we’re not caught off guard once more. Taking motion to restrict the influence of respiratory viruses with the goal to guard sufferers might assist to ease winter pressures on the NHS this coming season and into the longer term. 

This article has been written and funded by Sanofi Pasteur.


1 NHS Providers, (2021) Winter pressures. Accessed November 2021

2 GOV.UK UK Health Security Agency, (2021) Why we are preparing for a worst-case scenario winter season. Accessed November 2021

3 NHS Providers, (2017) Winter warning: Managing risk in health and care this winter. Accessed November 2021

4 The New Statesman, (2021), How NHS waiting times were at a record high even before COVID-19. Accessed November 2021

5 Nature, (2020) How COVID-19 is altering the chilly and flu season. Accessed November 2021

6 The Academy of Medical Sciences, (2021), COVID-19: Preparing for the longer term. Looking ahead to winter 2021/22 and beyond. Accessed November 2021

7 The Academy of Medical Sciences, (2021), COVID-19: Preparing for the longer term. Looking ahead to winter 2021/22 and beyond. Accessed November 2021

8 Taylor, S et al. (2016), Modelling estimates of the burden of respiratory syncytial virus infection in children in the UK. BMJ Open, 2, 6

9 Reeves RM, et al. (2017) Estimating the burden of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) on respiratory hospital admissions in kids lower than 5 years of age in England, 2007- 2012. Influenza and different respiratory viruses; 11:122–129

10 Webbergren G, et al, (2001), Relationship between respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis and future obstructive airway illnesses. European Respiratory Journal, 18:1044- 1058. Accessed November 2021

11 NHS England, Bronchiolitis: Overview. Accessed November 2021

12 Wilcox, Christopher R. MBBCh et al, (2019), Attitudes of Pregnant Women and Healthcare Professionals Toward Clinical Trials and Routine Implementation of Antenatal Vaccination Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus: A Multicenter Questionnaire Study. The Paediatric Infectious Disease Journal 38(9): 944-951. Accessed November 2021

13 Barr, R et al. (2019) Respiratory syncytial virus: prognosis, prevention and administration, Therapeutic Advances in Infectious Disease. Accessed November 2021

14 Drysdale S.B et al. (2016), RSV Vaccine use – the missing data, Expert Review of Vaccines, Oxford Vaccine Group, UK, 15, 2, 149-152

15 Krilov, L.r et al. (2019) Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection, Medscape. Accessed November 2021

16 World Health Organisation, (2021) Respiratory Syncytial Virus Surveillance. Accessed November 2021

17 Nunes M, Verwey C. (2020) RSV decrease respiratory tract an infection and lung well being within the first 2 years of life. Accessed November 2021

18 UK Health Security Agency, (2014), Why vaccinate? Accessed November 2021

19 Atchison, C.J et al. (2015), Rapid declines in age group-specific rotavirus infection and acute gastroenteritis among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals within 1 year of rotavirus vaccine introduction in England and Wales, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 213, 2, 243-249. Accessed November 2021

20 Oraby, T et al, (2021), Modelling the impact of lockdown timing as a COVID-19 management measure in nations with differing social contracts, Nature Scientific Reports, (11), 3354

Job bag quantity: MAT-GB-2105347 (v1.0)

Date of preparation: November 2021


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By Seth A. Dunbar

Seth Dunbar leads clinical research study operations and quality & compliance. He is experienced working with teams to help drug sponsors better leverage eSource data. With 10+ years of experience Seth brings expertise developing eClinical services that integrate data and technology to help companies optimise study execution.

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