RSV peaks as experts share better outlook for next winter

While the respiratory "tripledemic" continues to slam emergency rooms and children's hospitals, there are two glimmers of hope on the horizon, according to a Dec. 22 report in The New York Times. 

COVID-19, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus attack the body in different ways, and there are varying levels of disease severity across the U.S. Today, some scientists say RSV has peaked in most parts of the country.

"I think it's likely that the RSV season has peaked in most parts of the country," said Virginia Pitzer, ScD, an infectious disease epidemiologist at New Haven, Conn.-based Yale School of Public Health. "I think that there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

Additionally, there's reason to believe next winter won't be as burdensome for the American population and healthcare organizations.

Ironically, the safety precautions used to help stem the pandemic in the past couple of years have also kept adults and children from being exposed to the viruses that typically circulate this time of year, said Dr. Pitzer.

"There was a bit of a buildup of susceptibility at the population level," she added. "It’s a worse than normal winter, but one that hopefully will not be repeated next year."

On the other hand, the fact that people are no longer consistently wearing masks or minding the "stand-six-feet-apart" guidelines is one of the reasons RSV is still a major concern, new variations of COVID-19 are wreaking havoc across the entire country and flu is surging, as well.

Historically, RSV peaks in late December/early January. However, this year it began surging in September and started to affect adults as well as children, its more traditional target. Flu also hit early in October — six weeks ahead of when physicians are used to seeing it in full force. And, while new variants of COVID-19 are spreading quickly, hospitalizations and deaths statistics are well below where they were this time last year.



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