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Cogent Medicine ; 8, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1617064

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Respiratory tract diseases are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children. This study aimed to compare respiratory illness rates and aetiology requiring hospitalization in 2019 (pre-COVID lockdown in Ireland) and 2020 (during COVID lockdown in Ireland). Methodology: Data from medical admissions were retrospectively collected from the emergency department admissions record of a Tertiary Paediatric Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. This study focused on September, October and November in 2019 and 2020. The documented reason for admission in each case was noted;these were transcribed and grouped into categories. Reasons for admission under the category of respiratory included: bronchiolitis, lower respiratory tract infection, upper respiratory tract infection, wheeze, stridor and exacerbation of asthma. Rates of admission in this category were compared from 2019 versus 2020. Rates of investigative nasopharyngeal swabs for these admissions were documented, as well as the resultant viruses isolated. The results were compared across 2019 and 2020. Results: 1040 admission were included in the study. Of these, 620 were in 2019 and 420 in 2020. This alone shows a decrease of 32% in the admissions rate to Temple Street Children's hospital during COVID-19 restrictions. Of the 620 admissions across September, October and November 2019, 265 were attributed to respiratory illnesses (42.77%). In the same time period of 2020, only 67 admissions were attributed to respiratory causes (15.95%). This shows a dramatic decrease in the number of paediatric respiratory illnesses requiring hospital admission. There was a decrease in the number of respiratory panel nasopharyngeal swabs taken in 2020 compared to 2019, although 89% of respiratory admissions were swabbed for Sars-CoV-2 in 2020. Respiratory syncytial virus accounted for 54.60% of respiratory admissions swabbed in 2019 versus a 0% isolation rate in 2020. The table below further outlines virology differences between 2019 and 2020. (table) Conclusion: SARS-CoV-2 pandemic related social restrictions dramatically interfered with the seasonality of childhood respiratory illnesses. This was reflected in the unexpected reduction in the number of hospitalizations in the paediatric population during this period. There is also an obvious stark contrast in the viruses isolated in children presenting with respiratory illnesses in 2019 and 2020. This study raises serious questions and concerns regarding paediatric immunity to respiratory illnesses and begs the question: will we experience a more severe respiratory season in 2021?

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