A Comparative Analysis of the Occurrence of Lower Respiratory Tract Infections Caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus among Newborns in the Years before and during Covid-19 Pandemic at a Tertiary Referral Hospital in Slovenia

Sandra Cerar, Vesna Pirnovar


Objective − In this study we aimed to compare the occurrence of lower respiratory tract infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus in the neonatal population in the years before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods − Cases of newborns, hospitalized due to viral lower respiratory tract infection from 2015 to 2020, were analyzed retrospectively, and compared according to cause (respiratory syncytial virus, non-respiratory syncytial virus) and treatment requirements before (2015−2019) and after (2020) the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results − The number of newborns with lower respiratory tract infections and newborns contracting respiratory syncytial virus declined significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Respiratory syncytial virus was the major causative agent before the pandemic, while after the lockdown no more cases were reported. There were no significant differences between the two periods regarding the number of patients requiring treatment with oxygen (P=0.705), non-invasive (P=0.842) and invasive ventilation (P=0.574), or in terms of median hospital stay (P=0.670) and the duration of non-invasive (P=0.350) and invasive ventilation (P=0.556), while the difference in the duration of treatment with oxygen was statistically significant (P=0.048).

Conclusions − A decline was found in the number of newborns hospitalized due to respiratory syncytial virus and non-respiratory syncytial virus lower respiratory tract infections during the COVID-19. Our results strongly suggest that social distancing and other lockdown strategies were effective in slowing down the spread of respiratory syncytial virus and decreasing the need for hospitalization among newborns, but may be not equally effective for all agents causing lower respiratory tract infections.


Newborn; Coronavirus Disease 19; Covid-19; Respiratory Syncytial Virus; Lower Respiratory Tract Infection

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5457/p2005-114.322


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